The national selection committee led by chief selector Haroon Rasheed has named 39-year-old opener Rafatullah Mohmand in the T20I side after his consistent performances for Peshawar helped them win back-to-back T20 titles, while batsmen Umar Akmal and Mukhtar Ahmed were dropped.
Rafatullah has played in 169 first-class matches, 131 List A outings and 45 domestic T20s for Peshawar, Wapda and HBL.
Peshawar win National T20 cup by defeating Karachi Blues
Haroon said Rafatullah has shown all the ingredients needed to succeed at the international level, adding that the 39-year-old will help overcome Pakistan’s opening woes.
“Age is no barrier for a player like Rafatullah as he is performing consistently and is super fit, even at 39,” Haroon told The Express Tribune. “He has put in consistent displays in domestic T20s and List A matches. We have tried a few openers but they haven’t worked out, which is why we’ve decided to try out Rafatullah. He is a good fielder as well.”
In addition, Rafatullah’s Peshawar teammate Iftikhar Ahmed was also named in the T20I squad. The middle-order batsman had been called up for the ODI squad as Younus Khan’s replacement after the veteran batsman unexpectedly announced his ODI retirement after the first match against England.
Haroon added that Iftikhar’s impressive domestic performances in limited overs games helped him make the decision.
Rafatullah destroys ZTBL hopes
Controversy once again surrounds Umar
Middle-order batsman Umar was dropped on disciplinary grounds for allegedly violating the code of conduct along with three other players of domestic side SNGPL. The other three players were Umar’s brother Adnan Akmal, former Pakistan U19 captain Azeem Ghumman and Saleem Mughal.
Umar was taken to the Hyderabad Site Police Station before being released by the police. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan has ordered an inquiry into the matter, and asked the selectors to drop him from the T20I squad and suspend him till the inquiry is concluded.
“I’ve asked for an inquiry against Umar, and he will be given the chance to tell his side of things,” said Shaharyar. “We will make a decision once the inquiry is completed. For now, I’ve decided to suspend him and have asked Haroon not to select him.”
Haroon also confirmed that Umar was supposed to be part of the T20I squad before he became embroiled in his latest controversy. “Umar had been pencilled in for selection, but he has subsequently been dropped, as he has been issued a show-cause notice for bringing the PCB and Pakistan cricket into disrepute,” confirmed Haroon.
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Umar, however, has maintained that he has not done anything wrong and only went for dinner with his friends. The 25-year-old added that he will defend himself and is confident that he would be able to clear his name as he hasn’t done anything wrong.
The chosen few: Pakistan’s 16-member T20I squad
Shahid Afridi (c), Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Rafatullah Mohmand, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Anwar Ali, Imad Wasim (subject to fitness, otherwise Bilal Asif), Imran Khan Junior, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Amir Yamin
Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2015.
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