The Pakistan Cricket Board is likely to send experienced batsman Muhammad Hafeez to England to seek treatment for a knee muscular problem, which threatens to keep him out of the Test series against England.
PCB’s medical panel is not satisfied with the progress made by Hafeez from his injury , he was injured during the Asia Cup and forced him to miss the last two matches of the World T20 in India. He also a domestic national one-day cup and the national boot camp in Kakul, which ends on Saturday.
Dav Whatmore, the Pakistan coach, has said the recent Test loss against Zimbabwe has been "embarrassing, upsetting and disappointing", but on the positive side, has provided the team with preparation ahead of the upcoming series in the UAE.
"All three adjectives (upsetting, disappointed and embarrassing) can be used to describe the way I feel after the defeat against Zimbabwe," Whatmore told ESPNcricinfo. "I understand you cannot win with these sort of performances but I don't want to blame. I rather look for reasons and try to see things in a perspective than being judgmental.
"I know things were not good as we were a bit naughty with both bat and ball. But in the end, we only lost one Test match. I know it's Zimbabwe and I am also not happy with the result at all. I would like to think and public should understand that Zimbabwe team gave us a better fight than what the whole public thought. It wasn't easy breaking them down as they were not a bad team in their home conditions."
Pakistan are yet to win a series under Whatmore, who has six months remaining in his two-year contract, and the team's next assignment - the two-Test series against South Africa in the UAE - is a tough one. But it was in the UAE that Pakistan earned a remarkable win against the then No. 1 side, England, and Whatmore understood that there would be expectations this time too.
"I have confidence in the Pakistan team," he said. "You can't just say (that we don't have a chance). The conditions will be entirely different.
"I feel we are in a better position than before. At least Zimbabwe gave us better preparation and they were bit stronger than what a lot of us thought."
The selectors are likely to consider Taufeeq Umar for the opening role, with Mohammad Hafeez's selection for the series in jeopardy. Whatmore said there was a need for a reshuffle in the XI as the series would be played in entirely different conditions from what were encountered in Zimbabwe.
"There is good ground for discussion on the change ahead of (South Africa series)," he said. "You are going from one competition to another in totally different conditions and against an opposition that has a different formation. So there are number of variations and I don't think we can fit the same set of eleven players to play the number one team. But yes, we need to be consistently looking towards strengthening the team combination."
Whatmore's coaching and Misbah-ul-Haq's captaincy came under severe criticism after the series in Zimbabwe, but ESPNcricinfo understands the PCB has no immediate plan to remove the head coach, although they are not intent on renewing his contract that expires in April 2014.
"Misbah has some wonderful leadership qualities and has been successful since he took over recently," Whatmore said. "My observations are that by nature he is a methodical person who thinks deeply before making decisions. This is reflected in his batting as well. He takes a little time at the beginning but at the end his contribution is effective. His consistency in contributions during 2013 has been second to none. It's easy for people to be critical."
Whatmore, 59, might not have had the positive results with the squad, but he insisted that he has been doing his job whole-heartedly. "I can not control what people think," he said. "I know what I am doing being a professional coach with 15 years of international experience and nobody has such experience. When you are about to conclude your contract, these questions do emerge. But the renewal depends on mutual willingness. I know what I do is done with the best of intention and at the end of the day I can sleep straight, comfortably.
When asked if the results haunted him, Whatmore replied, "I don't worry. Everyday I need to know what we are doing is correct. Like everybody, I also make mistakes and I admit them. I am doing the best possible job what I can do."
The PCB has admitted that the endorsement of Zaka Ashraf for next four years as chairman was processed through a "representation process" and not purely a democratic process, but said it complied with the ICC's recommendations. According to the amended constitution, the chairman is still a nominated candidate, though one who is "endorsed" by ten elected members in the Board of Governors.
In 2011, the ICC stipulated that its member boards become autonomous and free of interference from governments by June 2013. Removal of government interference had also been one of the Woolf report recommendations approved by the ICC.
The PCB's 2007 constitution was then amended to change the method of appointing the board's chairman and alter the structure of its governing board. However, the process is still complicated, and the president of Pakistan, who is the patron of the PCB, retains a central role in appointing the chairman. Ashraf defended the transition as "fair and transparent to prevent a malicious candidate to step up to take the office".
"The new constitution complies with the recommendations made by the ICC and has been accepted, appreciated and welcomed by the ICC," Ashraf told a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. "It has been a much-needed transition and a necessary step in ensuring the development and better administration of the game of cricket. The key features of the constitution were also discussed individually with the ICC president and CEO and it fulfills the requirements of parameters laid down by them. The PCB is fully compliant."
The PCB has been criticised in the past because its constitution allowed the chairman almost dictatorial powers. The amended constitution hasn't changed that. The chairman can control and oversee income and expenditure in accordance with the budget approved by the board of governors. The major shortcoming in the new constitution is that the chairman has ultimate power with no recourse to remove him from the post in any circumstances. Also, the incumbent can be nominated for more than one term.
"The new constitution entrusts the board of governors [BoG] with greater responsibility and the power to make regulations for the better governance of the PCB. Previously, most rules had to be approved by the federal government," said Ashraf who insisted that "the constitution has been followed in letter and spirit and the PCB chairman has been appointed through the process defined in the constitution."
The restructured 14-member body includes five elected regional representatives picked on a rotation basis and five elected representatives of service organisations and departments who have the power of endorsement to the nominated chairman. The regions whose representatives accepted Ashraf's nomination were: Peshawar, Islamabad, Larkana and Dera Murad Jamali while the fifth spot is yet to be filled. Punjab - which has 60% of Pakistan's population - doesn't have a representative in the BoG as Ashraf said the regions within Punjab hadn't completed their own elections yet.
The transition, however, was surprising and conducted secretly with the PCB revealing the appointment through a press release, citing it as an internal matter and not a public one. "This is a representative process, that's why the word nominated as per process has been used (in the constitution)," explained the PCB solicitor, Taffazul Rizvi. "There are certain criteria which are defined in the constitution and the word democracy has a wide range. The PCB election is different from the way general elections are conducted."
It is understood that with the general election due on Saturday, a new government could bring in a change in PCB hierarchy. With his future as chairman uncertain, Ashraf implemented the new constitution and was eventually elected for a new term.
"We had to implement the new constitution to meet the deadline given by ICC," said Ashraf, to justify the abrupt move 72 hours before the general election in the country. "It was expected and we were already working on it from last many months. We didn't want to delay it, we have to have the new constitution in place before June to satisfy the ICC requirement."
One way of judging how much a series victory means to a team is perhaps by the scale of their celebrations. South Africa's recent ones have involved singing the team song on the pitch. They sang it at Lord's, they did it in Perth and at Newlands, after beating Pakistan. They did not do it in Port Elizabeth, after their resounding triumph over New Zealand.
Success over Pakistan is highly valued, as was evident when the squad emerged two hours after the winning runs were scored, dodged the sprinklers that were watering the outfield and formed a huddle on the pitch. They did their thing and left to the sounds of the occupants in one of the hospitality suites chanting, "Happy Birthday," to AB de Villiers, who turned 29 today.
The result gave South Africa breathing room at the top of the Test rankings, a sixth consecutive series win, a 14th unbeaten Test match in as many months, and Graeme Smith a fifth consecutive Test win, the longest such streak in his captaincy. Those numbers make it sound like the start of a dynasty but to call it that would be premature.
South Africa are a worthy No.1 side and of the three teams to have had that honour recently - England and India being the other two - they seem to have the right mix of personnel and personality to stay on top for a period of time. South Africa's batting line-up has been described as among the best at the moment, but it is the bowling that has been the centerpiece of their success.
The pace pack of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, and the added value of Jacques Kallis, has been compared to the greats of old - the 1980s West Indians, although South Africa lack the same terrifying pace in every one of their bowlers, or the Australian attack of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie, but South Africa don't have the equivalent of Shane Warne.
Their first-choice spinner at the moment, Robin Peterson, had a massive impact on this Newlands Test but by his own admission you had to "deal with what you have." He does not turn the ball prodigiously, and doesn't often get favourable conditions at home, and he has learned to work within these boundaries.
So how close are South Africa to establishing their reign as an era? The mighty West Indies went 29 series without defeat. The closest anybody came to that was Australia, who did not lose for 16 series. South Africa just completed their 12th without losing. It puts into perspective how much more there is to achieve before they can consider themselves among the all-time greats.
They are, however, giants in their own country. This is their longest unbeaten streak, beating the 11 between 1998 and 2001. They are also close to completing seven years of being unbeaten away from home. They are part of an environment that is more competitive because the top teams are not far apart. This match was an example of that.
South Africa were made to work for their victory. Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq's twin centuries along with Saeed Ajmal's ten wickets gave South Africa's their first strenuous workout of the summer.
Ajmal really made them sweat. The world's premier spin bowler proved difficult to pick on a surface that suited him far more than the one at the Wanderers. It will give South Africa's batsmen something to think about, for the next Test in Centurion and for the test after that, in the UAE.
There is territory Smith's team has not conquered. They haven't won in India, Sri Lanka or the UAE. They have the opportunity of crossing the Emirates off the list later in the year. Until then, parties on the pitch will have to do.