KARACHI: The national selection committee, headed by Haroon Rashid, is mulling naming rookie all-rounder Bilal Asif for the upcoming five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka, while they also plan to recall towering pacer Mohammad Irfan and middle-order batsman Umar Akmal.
The selectors have already called up the likes of Irfan, Bilal and Anwar Ali at a training camp in the National Cricket Academy, while it has been learnt that Umar has left to participate in the ongoing Caribbean Premier League (CPL) to play for Guyana Amazon Warriors.
Bilal came into the limelight with a century in the domestic T20 competition in Faisalabad for Sialkot Stallions, while his off-break also attracted the selectors’ attention.
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The 29-year-old also scored a crucial century for Omar Associates in the Patron’s Trophy Grade-II final with his team in dire straits, but the team eventually went on to lose against KPT.
“Bilal has been called up in the camp to train with the ODI hopefuls as the selectors are deliberating on giving him a go in the Sri Lankan series,” a Pakistan Cricket Board official told The Express Tribune. “Umar has left to play in the CPL for Guyana despite being in strong contention for a recall in the ODI lineup. The selectors are keen to have him for the important series as it could prove to be make or break for Pakistan as far as the ICC Champions Trophy qualification is concerned.”
Pakistan are struggling in the off-spin department with Saeed Ajmal ousted after losing his magic with the remodelled action, while Mohammad Hafeez has been reported for a suspect bowling action again and will need to clear another bowling test to continue bowling in international cricket.
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This has given the selection committee to blood in a handy off-spinner and Bilal looks a certainty to board Sri Lanka’s plane for the one-dayers.
It is important to mention that Bilal is suspected to have an illegal bowling action and there are chances that if selected, he may be reported very soon.
Meanwhile, Umar is a strong contender for the one-dayers and will likely replace wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan. “We need firepower in the batting department and discussions are under way to bring in Umar for Rizwan,” said a selection committee member.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2015.
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