Promising squad to line up for first T20I

Malik, Sami and Umar Akmal called up after impressive domestic performances.

According to the chief selector, Malik’s skippering skills would add value to captain Afridi and vice-captain Sarfraz’s decision-making. PHOTO: SHAFIQ MALIK/EXPRESS

KARACHI: The national selection committee, led by Haroon Rasheed, announced the strongest possible T20 squad for the two-match series against Zimbabwe as senior players Shoaib Malik, Muhammad Sami and Umar Akmal were recalled.

Former skipper Malik guided Sialkot Stallions to yet another domestic T20 title as they won the 2015 Super8 T20 competition, beating Lahore Lions in the final. On the other hand, Umar did well for Lahore, playing exquisite innings throughout the tournament.

“Malik has been in good all-round form as he has been bowling well, batting well and captained Stallions to the title, so he deserved a recall,” Rasheed told The Express Tribune. “He is someone who can aid skipper Shahid Afridi and vice-captain Sarfraz Ahmed in decision-making as well.”

According to the chief selector, the committee had a talk with Umar about his unsatisfactory attitude and hoped that the batsman would come up to scratch this time.

Meanwhile, Sami impressed the selectors with his pace and chief selector Haroon has termed that Sami has a ‘golden chance’ to cement his place ahead of the World Twenty20 next year.

The official said that Pakistan needed attacking wicket-taking options in the bowling line-up, and Sami and Wahab will be those options for Afridi. “Saeed Ajmal has been rested, while Irfan hasn’t recovered fully, so Sami and Malik will certainly improve our bowling options,” explained Rasheed.

Pakistan’s worry against Bangladesh was the missing link of big hitters down the order, and that aspect has certainly improved with the likes of Malik, Umar and all-rounders Anwar Ali, Hammad Azam and Immad Wasim.

“We’ve addressed the need of possessing firepower down the order to launch an onslaught and I believe that we’ve covered that base pretty well,” said the chief selector.

However, Rasheed thinks it would be wrong to expect too much from rookies Immad and Noman Anwar — who was man of the match for Stallions’ title victory — as there is a big difference between domestic and international cricket.

The T20I squad: PCB’s 15 chosen men

Shahid Afridi (c), Sarfraz Ahmed, Ahmed Shehzad, Muhammad Hafeez, Mukhtar Ahmed, Noman Anwar, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Muhammad Rizwan, Anwar Ali, Hammad Azam, Immad Wasim, Bilawal Bhatti, Wahab Riaz, Muhammad Sami

Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2015.

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