The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) new-formed selection committee made its objectives clear by axing Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat and Adnan Akmal from the Asia Cup squad that will be held in Bangladesh from March 11.
Instead, Nasir Jamshed and specialist wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed were recalled to the One-Day International (ODI) squad as the selectors made note of Umar Akmal’s inconsistent show behind the stumps and Pakistan’s inability to lay a solid foundation.
Calls for Misbahul Haq to be replaced as ODI captain were shot down when the batsman was retained as skipper for the regional event that also includes India, Sri Lanka and the hosts.
Jamshed’s recall was a surprise to many, especially after his passport was seized in Bangladesh following the arrest of the Karachi-based bookie Sajid Khan during the recently-concluded Bangladesh Premier League.
New chief selector Iqbal Qasim, along with the selection committee that includes Saleem Jaffar, Azhar Khan, Farrukh Zaman and Asif Baloch, held a two-hour meeting with Misbah before naming the squad.
“The selectors were not ready for this as we thought we’d be put incharge after the Asia Cup,” Qasim told The Express Tribune. “However, we’ve tried hard to work on the grey areas and name the best available in the space of 24 hours after consultation with Misbah.”
Dearth of wicket-keeper, pacemen concern Misbah
Meanwhile, an official close to the proceedings revealed that Misbah showed grave concerns over the inability to find Kamran Akmal’s replacement with the team having used the services of Mohammad Salman, Adnan, Umar Akmal and Sarfraz Ahmed since Kamran was snubbed after last year’s World Cup.
Misbah also remained worried over the lack of penetration shown by the fast-bowlers.
New coach Dav Whatmore, however, remained a silent participant in the meeting, opting to observe proceedings for now with his input starting after the four-nation event.
Onus to perform on Sarfraz
Qasim, though, sounded out a stern warning to Sarfraz, highlighting the various chances he had been given and how another failure will spell the end.
“When you don’t have a good wicketkeeper-batsman, the balance of the whole team gets disturbed. It is high time that Sarfraz finally comes good with the bat otherwise we will be forced to look elsewhere,” added Qasim, hinting that a talent-hunt scheme could solve the issue, if needed.
Sarfraz, meanwhile, knows he needs to perform and that another failure could be harmful for his prospects.
“I have not been able to show my prowess with the bat but I am looking forward to playing decent knocks in the Asia Cup and finally repaying the selectors’ trust in me,” said Sarfraz.
“Like everybody else, I just need one good innings to break the shackles and hopefully I will be able to transform my domestic batting heroics in the international arena.”
Jamshed keen to make an impact
Jamshed, who made his debut against Zimbabwe back in 2008, vowed to grab this opportunity with both hands.
“My aim is to cash in on this opportunity as much as I can so that I don’t regret this,” he said, before adding that the BPL controversy was behind him and the few tough days he faced were part of a learning curve and a lesson for him.
Misbahul Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Younus Khan, Umar Akmal, Hammad Azam, Asad Shafiq, Shahid Afrid, Azhar Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema, Wahab Riaz
Mar 11, 1300 PST
Bangladesh v Pakistan
Mar 13, 1300 PST
India v Sri Lanka
Mar 15, 1300 PST
Pakistan v Sri Lanka
Mar 16, 1300 PST
Bangladesh v India
Mar 18, 1300 PST
India v Pakistan
Mar 20, 1300 PST
Bangladesh v Sri Lanka
Mar 22, 1300 PST
“The selectors were not ready for this as we thought we’d be put incharge after the Asia Cup. However, we’ve tried hard to work on the grey areas and name the best available in the space of 24 hours after consultation with Misbah.”
“My aim is to cash in on this opportunity as much as I can so that I don’t regret this. The BPL controversy is behind me and the few tough days I faced were part of a learning curve and a lesson for me.”
“I haven’t been able to show my prowess with the bat but am looking forward to playing decent knocks in the Asia Cup and finally repaying the selectors’ trust in me. I just need one good innings to break the shackles.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2012.
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