Batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq returns to the Pakistan team for the second Test against South Africa on Monday needing 20 runs in his final match before retiring to become his country’s top run scorer.
Inzamam has 8,813 runs from 119 tests compared to Javed Miandad’s 8,832.
The 37-year-old, whose last Test was in January, turned down an invitation to play in the first match, which Pakistan lost by 160 runs, for personal reasons.
“It will be an emotional occasion for me but I am praying I can go out on a winning note. It would be the best farewell I can ask for,” said Inzamam
The selectors are hoping his experience and presence will boost the team.
“Having Inzamam and Mohammad Yousuf back in the team will certainly bolster the batting lineup,” captain Shoaib Malik told reporters.
However, he also promised Inzamam’s final match for his country would not distract the team from their target of trying to prevent South Africa from recording a second series win in Pakistan.
The visitors notched up only their second Test win in 10 years on Pakistan soil on Friday thanks to twin hundreds from Jacques Kallis in Karachi.
“If Inzamam can get a big score it would be the icing on the cake for us. But we have to fire as a team as well,” said Malik.
Pakistan’s strategy of preparing a slow, turning pitch in Karachi and playing with two specialist spinners backfired as the batting faltered against some disciplined bowling from South Africa.
The groundsman at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore is expected to leave some grass on the pitch to provide a bit of zip for the pace bowlers.
Pakistan are expected to drop Misbah-ul-Haq and Faisal Iqbal, who could not convert good starts into big scores in Karachi, to make way for Inzamam and Yousuf.
South African captain Graeme Smith said Inzamam-ul-Haq’s swansong in international cricket could distract Pakistan in their must-win second Test.
“It certainly can be I guess,” Smith said, when asked if Pakistan’s young captain, Shoaib Malik, could be distracted by having his predecessor in the team.
“They have a young captain and how he is going to manage that is going to be key for him. It can put a lot of pressure on him,” said Smith.
“Inzamam carries a huge aura around him in this set-up, which I have noticed playing against Pakistan in the last two years.
“It will be key how he (Malik) handles it,” said Smith, under whom South Africa lost a two-match series in Pakistan four years ago.
Jacques Kallis set up South Africa’s win in Karachi with back-to-back centuries, while paceman Dale Steyn took five wickets on the final day.
South African left-arm spinner Paul Harris took seven wickets in the match.
South Africa remain concerned with the form of their main strike bowler, Makhaya Ntini, who took just one wicket. Smith has not ruled out a place for Shaun Pollock, their most experienced test performer with 417 wickets.
“Ntini has struggled since the start of this season but he is working hard. But obviously the selection committee has some decisions to make before the match,” Smith said.
Pakistan squad: Shoaib Malik (captain), Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, Salman Butt, Taufiq Umar, Yasir Hameed, Faisal Iqbal, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Danish Kaneria, Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Misbah-ul-Haq, Rao Iftikhar.
South Africa squad: Graeme Smith (captain), Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs, Hashim Amla, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel, Paul Harris, Jean-Paul Duminy.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:Inzamam, Lahore, Mohammad Yousuf, Pakistan, Shoaib Malik, South Africa, South Africa in Pakistan 2007
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