The national selection committee, led by chief selector Haroon Rasheed, has included middle-order batsman Umar Akmal in Pakistan’s T20 squad that will take on Sri Lanka in the two-match T20 series, despite the player snubbing the national camp for the ODI series.
Umar is on a central contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and is obligated to report for national duty, but the 25-year-old decided to play truant and opted to continue playing in the Caribbean Premier T20 League.
However, the PCB, which recently embarked on a disciplinary drive, went against their philosophy of punishing out-of-line players and recalled the right-hander.
Meanwhile, in-form leg-spinner Yasir Shah has also been included in the 15-member squad, while lanky pacer Mohammad Irfan makes a return in the shortest format.
Yasir has been on a roll in Sri Lanka, bamboozling the Islanders first in the Test series and then returning to haunt the hosts in the ODI series with a match-winning spell in the third one-dayer.
The 29-year-old has all but replaced discarded Saeed Ajmal as the leading spinner in the national side, which is why the selectors and skipper Shahid Afridi agreed on his selection.
“Yasir has become an integral part of our plans and has emerged as an extremely reliable strike bowler. His ability to take quick wickets is something that will be a big plus in T20Is,” said Haroon.
Meanwhile, Wahab Riaz will be included subject to his fitness. In case he misses out, selectors have named his replacement in rookie left-arm pacer Ziaul Haq.
Zia has represented Pakistan U19 and ‘A’ sides, while he plays for NBP, the same department as Wahab.
“Wahab is expected to start bowling from July 24, after recovering from a hand injury —sustained during the Test series against Sri Lanka — under the supervision of the National Cricket Academy’s coaches and would be included in the squad upon assurance that he is injury free,” explained Haroon. “Otherwise, Zia would take his place in the team.”
The chief selector added that Haris Sohail and Sohaib Maqsood are still undergoing rehabilitation from injuries and are expected to be available for selection for the Zimbabwe tri-series.
All-rounder Sohail Tanvir has also been named in the T20 squad, with selectors citing his wealth of T20 experience from playing in various leagues in the UK and the West Indies as the main reason for his selection.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka will lock horns in two T20Is, with the first one scheduled on July 30 followed by the second, two days later, on August 1.
For the T20Is: 15-member squad
Shahid Afridi (captain)
Sarfraz Ahmed (vice-captain)
Wahab Riaz/Ziaul Haq
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2015.
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