Pakistan Cricket Board selection committee, headed by ex – Test opener Mohsin Hasan Khan, Tuesday excluded wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, all-rounder Shoaib Malik and batsman Mohammad Yousuf from Test and Twenty20 squads named for the New Zealand tour beginning with a warm-up game against Auckland on December 23. Ex – captain Younis Khan has been recalled for both formats. Younis retired from Twenty20 cricket after leading Pakistan to the World Cup title in England last year, but said last month he was available to represent Pakistan in all formats of the game.
Misbahul Haq has been retained as captain for the Tests while Shahid Afridi will lead the team in the Twenty20s. Left-arm fast bowler Sohail Tanvir, who was sidelined from international cricket for more than a year, recovered from knee injury and has also been included in both the Twenty20 and Test squads.
There was no official statement from the PCB why Kamran and Shoaib Malik were not chosen. “We talked about a vast pool of players but these two were not given clearance by the board,” chief selector Mohsin said. “Yousuf was dropped on fitness ground.” According to sources, Kamran and Shoaib Malik were not “given clearance” for selection by a PCB integrity committee.
Kamran, who was ruled out of Pakistan’s current series against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates after surgery for appendicitis, has been at the centre of match-fixing allegations. It is interesting to note that Shoaib Malik is in prime form in domestic matches, scoring three successive hundreds including a double century. Veteran Yousuf exclusion means that his time at international level has come closer. Yousuf, one of Pakistan’s leading Test batsmen, had to return home with a groin injury from Dubai last month without playing in Tests against South Africa but has recovered to play domestic cricket. In the last three years, the 36-year-old Yousuf averages 35 in 13 Tests, with a solitary hundred.
“The upcoming tour of New Zealand is extremely important for us as it will help in the preparations for the World Cup,” Mohsin said. Pakistan lost the Twenty20 and ODI series to South Africa, but drew the two Test matches. Also missing from the Test team is leg-spinner Danish Kaneria despite being cleared of spot-fixing charges in England. Kaneria, 29, was initially included in the team for the two Tests against South Africa but was stopped from travelling to the UAE by the PCB. Kamran’s younger brother Adnan, who made his Test debut against South Africa, retains his place as the squad’s sole wicketkeeper.
For spinning duties, the selectors have chosen to persist with Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, who also showed ability with the bat against South Africa. Opener Imran Farhat and seamer Mohammad Sami, both of whom played against South Africa, have been axed. “The one-day squad will be announced later on as first the team plays three T20 matches and two Tests, and the ODI series starts from January 22,” Mohsin added.
Twenty20: Shahid Afridi (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shahzad, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, Adnan Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar, Tanvir Ahmad, Sohail Tanvir and Wahab Riaz (subject to fitness).
Test: Misbahul Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Taufiq Umar, Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Adnan Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Tanvir Ahmad, Sohail Tanvir and Wahab Riaz (subject to fitness).