A psychologically battered Pakistan side takes on England in the second test at Edgbaston on Friday, with its selectors poised to take a huge gamble by recalling former captain Mohammad Yousuf.
Within 24 hours of the 354-run defeat by England in the first test at Trent Bridge, Yousuf, having coming out of international retirement, was summoned from Pakistan in a high-risk move by the selectors.
Yousuf's condition has to be open to question: he only received a visa on Wednesday and is due in Britain on Thursday after a 10-hour flight, less than 24 hours before the second test starts. Although Yousuf, 35, averages 53 in tests, he has only played Twenty20 cricket in the past six months and bringing him back into the squad risks re-opening the bitter wounds exposed in May, when a video of an inquiry into player behavior was leaked to Geo Super TV. Shoaib Malik, one of many former Pakistan captains still haunting the current set-up, was seen saying: “His (Yousuf's) captaincy in Australia was pathetic.”
Malik in turn was accused of refusing to perform for Yousuf, while the new captain Salman Butt may struggle to forget the public admonition he received from Yousuf after running him out against Australia in Hobart in January. In the immediate aftermath of the capitulation at Trent Bridge, Butt had pleaded for more time for his young teammates. “Whoever is in the Pakistan side is there because of ability,” he said. “They need to be given time to show what they are capable of.”
Butt was openly skeptical about the idea of tinkering with the line-up.
“Having seen the past results can anybody over here tell me how many wins Pakistan had with the people who were previously playing?” he said.
The contrast with England's serene preparations is stark. With every passing test, England sound increasingly like recent all-conquering Australian sides, as the players talk of “executing gameplans” and backing themselves.
There is concern over Kevin Pietersen's form — he hasn't made a century since the tour of the West Indies in March 2009 — while Alastair Cook could also do with some runs.
But unless there is an injury, the England starting line-up will almost certainly be unchanged.