LAHORE: Former captain Shahid Afridi was named in Pakistan’s 16-man One-Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 squad to face Sri Lanka in the UAE.
Afridi, who had a meeting with the new Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Zaka Ashraf yesterday, will be playing under Misbahul Haq’s captaincy when the ODI series kicks off on November 11. Umar Akmal, who shone with the bat in the Hong Kong Super Sixes that Pakistan won, returns to national duty too after being overlooked for the Test series.
Left-arm fast-bowler Wahab Riaz, warming the bench for the first two Tests, was a surprise omission despite his good show in the format. While the PCB or the stand-in chief selector Mohammad Ilyas refused to give a reason for the omission, Riaz’s alleged involvement in spot-fixing on the tour of England last year, and the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) statement confirming an extended probe, could have forced the PCB to overlook him.
The biggest news, however, was the return of Afridi who was sacked as captain after the series against West Indies and retired from international cricket in protest. The all-rounder, however, reversed his conditional retirement following the resignation of coach Waqar Younis and the tenure of former PCB chief Ijaz Butt coming to an end.
“It’s an honour and privilege to play for Pakistan,” Afridi had told reporters after his meeting with Ashraf. “I have a lot of cricket left in me and I want to perform for the sake of my fans who have always stood by me. I’m ready to contribute as a senior player.”
Meanwhile, allrounder Abdul Razzaq also returns to the limited-overs squad for the first time since the team’s loss at the hands of India in Mohali. Razzaq was snubbed for the series against West Indies, Ireland and Zimbabwe after which he blamed the team management for not utilising him effectively.
Umar Gul returns to lead the attack in ODIs after being rested for the series against Zimbabwe. In the absence of Riaz, Gul will be backed up by Junaid Khan, who has remained impressive in the two Tests against Sri Lanka.
A team official confirmed to The Express Tribune that Junaid’s hugely impressive show in the Tests was the reason behind Riaz’s omission.
Karachi-based Sarfraz Ahmad replaces Adnan Akmal as the wicket-keeper after the former’s good show in the Faysal Bank Twenty20 Cup that took place in September and October. Ahmad has played nine ODIs so far.
Former captain and allrounder, Shoaib Malik, has retained his place despite his struggle during the Zimbabwe series where he averaged just eight from three matches.
Pakistan’s ODI squad
Misbahul Haq, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Younus Khan, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema, Junaid Khan, Sohail Tanvir, Abdul Razzaq, Asad Shafiq
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2011.