Melbourne:Thanks to a powerful players' clique within the Pakistan cricket team, off-colour Kamran Akmal may still play the Hobart Test against Australia despite his embarrassing performance in the previous match in Sydney.
Sources in the board said that problems are brewing in the Pakistan cricket camp in Australia as captain Mohammad Yousuf and coach Intikhab Alam, on insistence of the group of players, are resisting instructions by the national selection committee to replace Akmal in the Hobart Test.
The selectors, with the consent of the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ejaz Butt, have already rushed young keeper Sarfaraz Ahmed to Australia with clear instructions that he must play in place of Akmal in Hobart.
"Just how unhappy the board and selectors were with Akmal's disastrous performance in Sydney was visible from the fact that they didn't even bother to consult the team management before deciding to send Sarfaraz to Australia," one well placed source in the board said.
But once again the coterie of handful players is likely to prevail and it was the same set of players whose non-cooperation frustrated Younus Khan so much that he surrendered captaincy and withdrew from the team.
"Kamran Akmal is not as innocent as he looks. He has been an influential and central figure in creating this pressure group within the team. This same group is now pressurising the captain and coach to ensure that Akmal must not be dropped for the Hobart Test," the source disclosed.
"They have told the team management to resist any directives from the selectors. In any other team if an experienced keeper like Akmal dropped four catches, missed one clear run out and didn't score runs in a big match like the Sydney Test, he would be rested for the next game immediately.
But in the Pakistan team it does not work that way and player politics still prevail," the source said.
He also claimed that this group had also pressurised the tour selection committee to send back Sarfaraz Ahmed from New Zealand in November as Akmal does not want any competition.
The source said despite all of the board's and team management's insistence that there is no such coterie, the fact was that this problem had been afflicting the team for a while now.
"Look how Misbah-ul-Haq was called up to join the team in New Zealand even though the selection committee had initially dropped him for the one-day and Test series against New Zealand," the source pointed out.
He said the group was one reason why Younus got fed up and took a break from the game.
"Younus is a very committed and passionate individual and when he didn't get the cooperation or efforts he wanted to see from his players, he felt the best thing was to step aside," the source said.