LAHORE: Pakistan cricket selectors, headed by former Test captain Moin Khan, on Wednesday dropped top order batsman Mohammad Hafeez from a 15-member Test squad and recalled former captain Younus Khan in a 15-member one-day team named for next month’s tour of Sri Lanka. Hafeez’s struggle in Tests prompted his axing from the squad for the series against South Africa last year in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before the 36-Test player was recalled for the series against Sri Lanka, also in the UAE. 33-year-old Hafeez has managed just one half-century in his last 14 Test innings and he quit the Twenty20 captaincy in April after the team’s exit from the group stage of the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh. Umar Akmal, who last played Test in September 2011, has been recalled up for the longer format after nearly three years in place of Hafeez. Akmal played his last Test in Zimbabwe in 2011 but has been a regular part of the one-day squads.
Veteran batsman Younus is back in the ODI squad after a 16-month gap, getting one last chance to press his claim for a place at next year’s World Cup. Younus, who has played 253 ODIs, lost his place in the one-day side after a poor run of scores in the five-match series in South Africa in March last year. Younus, who is also in the Test squad, has not scored an ODI hundred since his knock against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi in November 2008. However, fast bowlers Umar Gul and Mohammad Irfan missed out on the tour due to ongoing fitness concerns. “They are not 100 percent fit and have been given more time to hit peak fitness,” chief selector Moin told reporters. Gul had a knee surgery in May and the 30-year-old right-arm bowler hurt it again while playing in the MCC v Rest of the World celebration match at the Lord’s last week. Left-arm bowler Irfan, 32, has not fully recovered from a hairline fracture in his hip.
Pakistan’s fast-bowling attack will be led by Junaid Khan. Left-arm pace bowler Wahab Riaz, who last played a Test in 2011 against West Indies, has replaced Gul in the squad. Riaz’s last ODI for Pakistan was in November last year and he has not established a regular place in the side due to inconsistent performances. He was also recently fined Rs.500,000 by the PCB for playing disapproved cricket in the United States. However, Riaz was among the fittest players during a month-long training camp in May and this was a significant factor in his inclusion.
The selectors have ignored wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal despite his recovery from a finger injury, opting instead to back Sarfraz Ahmad, whose quickfire 49 helped Pakistan pull off an astonishing chase in the Sharjah Test against Sri Lanka. All-rounder Bilawal Bhatti has been axed to fit fast bowler Mohammad Talha in both the teams. Pakistan will play two Tests in Galle and Colombo from August 6 and 14 respectively before the teams play a three-match ODI series between August 23 and 30: Hambantota (August 23), Colombo (August 27) and Dambulla (August 30).
Misbahul Haq (captain), Ahmad Shahzad, Khurram Manzoor, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Younus Khan, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmad, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Talha, Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz.
Misbahul Haq (captain), Ahmad Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Younus Khan, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Anwar Ali, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Talha, Wahab Riaz and Zulfiqar Babar.
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