Karachi: Pakistan cricket was plunged into crisis on Sunday as top players Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar and Inzamam-ul Haq opted out of their important series against Australia next month.
"It's shocking and disappointing and what I smell is there is something terribly wrong in the team which led to Wasim and Anwar's pull out," former captain and coach Intikhab Alam said. While Inzamam is out of the series due to a heel injury, Akram and Anwar have opted out to take some much needed rest from a team, which has been plagued by a recent run of poor performances. "It's disappointing that some senior players have opted out of the series but it's their decision and we have to honour it," Pakistan's chief selector Wasim Bari said. Bari, while refusing to comment on the situation, tried to downplay the crisis saying the absence of the senior players will give Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) a chance to start the rebuilding process earlier than planned. "Wasim has been playing regular cricket but Anwar's decision looks strange but now the selection committee will sit down and consider the available options," Bari said. "Coach (Mudassar) Nazar is arriving home on Monday and we will get his words before taking decisions." Former skipper Alam blamed mismanagement for the current state of affairs. "I see lack of coordination and groupings in the team and this is very, very unfortunate for the team with just four months left before the World Cup," Alam said. "It's mishandling of the affairs by the management which has led to this scenario." Pakistan fared badly in their last three events. Their recent slump is significant as in June they beat world champions Australia in Australia in a One-day series. Pakistan lost three of its four matches in the Morocco Cup in August, was thrashed by 224 runs and by nine wickets by Australia in the tri-series in Kenya in August- September and lost to Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the ICC (International Cricket Council) Champions Trophy currently being held in Sri Lanka. "There is lack of coordination between coach and captain and some players are handled badly with Yousuf Youhana expelled from the team on not a very big issue," Alam said. Youhana was sent home three days before the Kenya event after reportedly misbehaving. Pakistani media insists captain Waqar Younis is set to lose his captaincy while coach Mudassar Nazar will be replaced by Englishman Richard Pybus. Replying to a question whether Wasim and Anwar will be in Pakistan's plans for the February-March 2003 World Cup in South Africa, Bari said, "We will take every decision series by series." Pakistan tours Zimbabwe in November for three Tests and as many One-day games before touring South Africa for two Tests and two One-day games in December-January, a month before the eighth World Cup. Pakistan, virtually out of the ICC event, play its last match against the Netherlands on September 21 before taking on Australia in the first of three Tests in Colombo from October 3. The remaining two Tests will be played in Sharjah from October 11. Pakistan's home series against Australia had to be shifted to a neutral venue after Australia refused to tour Pakistan over security concerns following a series of terrorist attacks in the region.
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