RAWALPINDI - Fawad Alam and Shoaib Malik staged comebacks in the Asia Cup and Twenty20 World Cup bound squads as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) interim chief selector Azhar Khan along with selection committee members Salim Jaffer and Farrukh Zaman announced the squads in a press conference held here at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Friday.
Misbah-ul Haq will lead the one-day team while M Hafeez will be Twenty20 captain. The most notable absentee from both the squads was the highest scorer of currently underway Faysal Bank Twenty20 Tournament Younus Khan, who was completely ignored by the selection committee.
Talking to the journalists, Azhar Khan said: “The teams were announced with the consent of both captains, head coach, bowling coach and the selectors with all the aspects were taken into account before announcing the squads.”
To a query regarding Fawad Alam’s selection in the Asia Cup squad, Azhar replied: “Fawad has been performing consistently in the domestic circuit having outstanding domestic record. He is an established middle order batsman so he can deliver for Pakistan.”
To another query regarding Kamran Akmal’s inclusion in the Twenty20 World Cup squad, when Umar Akmal was already selected as wicketkeeper batsman, Azhar stated: “Kamran was picked in both the squads because of his explosive batting top of the order and he is third specialist opener alongside Ahmed Shahzad and Sharjeel Khan.”
When this scribe asked the chief selector why Shoaib Malik was preferred over other consistent performers, he answered: “Malik is an experienced batsman and can also bowl more than handy overs.”
It is pertinent to mention here Malik was very upset with the way Basit Ali had leveled match-fixing allegations against his Sialkot Stallions side, but a telephonic conversation with PCB chairman Najam Sethi paved the way for his inclusion in the squad.
Lanky paceman M Irfan was left out of squads. Irfan -- the tallest ever man to play international cricket at 7 feet one inch -- fractured his hip in Pakistan's Twenty20 series against South Africa in United Arab Emirates in November last year. However, his recovery proved short lived when the injury recurred in a domestic tournament this week, prompting chief selector Azhar Khan to say Irfan had to be left out of the squads.
Replying to another query regarding Umer Amin and wicketkeeper Ahmed Jamal, who despite performing exceptionally were not considered for selection in both the squads, Azhar said: “We will broaden our canvas, but for the time being, we have opted for the best available squads for both the formats. It is quite unfortunate that M Irfan got himself injured once again. A medical board decided to exclude his name from squads after proper tests and was declared unfit for at least two months.”
The Asia Cup will be held in Dhaka, from February 25 to March 8. Besides Pakistan - the defending champions - India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and hosts Bangladesh will also take part in the event. The fifth edition of the World Twenty20 with 16 teams in competition will also be held in Bangladesh from March 16 to April 6.
Pakistan SQUAD for ASIA CUP :
Misbahul Haq (capt), M Hafeez, Ahmad Shahzad, Sharjeel Khan, Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Fawad Alam, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, Anwar Ali, Bilawal Bhatti and M Talha.
For ICC WC T20:
M Hafeez (capt), Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Sherjeel Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Junaid Khan, Bilawal Bhatti, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal, Zulfiqar Babar, M Talha, Kamran Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad.