Mohammad Yousuf and Abdul Razzaq are likely to be two big-name casualties from Pakistan's 15-man squad for the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa.
Though Pakistan don't announce their squad until next week, when results of dope tests taken on all 30 probables arrive, Yousuf and Razzaq are set to be sacrificed as Pakistan takes a punt and tests its younger talent and bench strength.
The uncertain position of Yousuf in particular, comes as a surprise, given his outstanding form only last year and a generally impressive record in ODIs. But his fielding, and an apparent desire to have more flexible batting options, might work against him.
"Though it is not finalised yet, the chances of Yousuf being selected for the squad are very unlikely. Younis Khan is there as an orthodox batsman and he is a good fielder too. We want to have some fresher, younger options who give us flexibility," a well-placed board source told Mag4you.com.
Fawad Alam, the young Karachi all-rounder who has impressed during the practice matches, and Shahid Yousuf, the Sialkot middle-order batsman, are being touted as potential replacements. Both have enjoyed success during the domestic limited-overs season. Karachi batsmen Khurram Manzoor and Khalid Latif, the former U-19 captain, have also been keenly watched.
[Mohammad] Yousuf left the ongoing training camp yesterday and returned to Lahore, officially to be with his mother who is ill, though whispers have it that he was understandably upset once aware of the situation. Inzamam-ul-Haq, the former captain, has already said that any decision to drop Yousuf will backfire on Pakistan.
There is unlikely to be as much surprise if Razzaq is dropped. Though his often-devastating lower-order batting and handy medium-pace suggests he is ideal for Twenty20 matches, he has been a patchy international performer over the last two years. And ordinary performances in the training camp have not helped his cause.
"He hasn't stood out during these games," said the official. "He has struggled to score runs and his bowling has been really lightweight even given that the pitches are really flat. Plus, he has never been outstanding in the field and the feeling is we need to have alert, fresher legs out in South Africa."
Seven to eight places have already been decided, which still leaves almost half the squad to be picked but there is a nagging concern, among players, that Pakistan's hectic practice schedule is taking its toll.
Shoaib Akhtar, perennially embroiled in one fitness worry or another, is certain to go if fit. The bowler missed practice again through a minor neck strain, but the injury is not considered a serious one. Umar Gul also limped off after bowling nine balls in Wednesday's session and missed Thursday's with a foot injury, though again the management have said it is not serious.
This is the third training camp players have attended this summer. While the first, in Abbottabad, concentrated mainly on physical conditioning, subsequent ones have involved a series of practice Twenty20 matches. The squad was originally scheduled to play two matches a day in stifling Karachi heat, but on the insistence of the players decided on one game per day, with the occasional day of gym training thrown in.
One bowler confided, however, that it was too much and that bowlers in particular were lacking motivation on flat pitches in demanding conditions.