Asia Cup 2012 March 3, 2012

Nasir Jamshed, Sarfraz Ahmed in Pakistan squad

ESPNcricinfo staff

Pakistan have dropped Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat and Adnan Akmal from the squad that lost the ODIs 4-0 to England, and picked opener Nasir Jamshed and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed for the Asia Cup in Bangladesh. Fast bowler Junaid Khan was not considered for selection because he was sidelined with a knee injury.

The 15-man squad was the first selection by the committee headed by Iqbal Qasim, who replaced Mohammad Ilyas as chief selector. The selectors had met with Pakistan's new coach Dav Whatmore, whose first assignment will be the Asia Cup, in Lahore on March 2 to pick the team.

"We have selected the best possible squad for the Asia Cup in the shortest time available, and since Malik was an additional member for the England series we couldn't find a place for him in the 15-man squad," Qasim said. "We did consult Misbah and he agreed to the selection.

"We had to maintain the balance keeping view of the pitches in Bangladesh. But now we have to compete with quality teams, especially Sri Lanka, who returned to form, and India will obviously come hard after the Australia tour."

Jamshed has played 12 ODIs for Pakistan, the last of which was in August 2009. He has just been in Bangladesh, where he played for the Chittagong Kings in the BPL. Before going to Bangladesh, Jamshed had scored 320 runs at 53.33 in four matches for Punjab in the Pentangular Cup, a first-class competition in Pakistan. Sarfraz replaced Adnan Akmal as the specialist wicketkeeper in the squad; he played for Pakistan as recently as December 2011, during the tour of Bangladesh.

"Jamshed earned his recall only after he has done well in the domestic circuit as an opener," Qasim said. "There was an added pressure on Umar [Akmal] and this is why he might not giving his best with the bat. He always was selected as a designated batsman, we wanted a batting wicketkeeper who can bat effectively in ODIs to score quick runs."

Qasim said that the Asia Cup would be Sarfraz's last chance to seal his place in the Pakistan team. "It's our inability that we don't have a batting wicketkeeper but this would be the last chance for [Sarfraz Ahmed] to step up and do well with the bat. Otherwise, after the series, we are starting the talent hunt for an all-round wicketkeeper."

While Junaid's absence from the squad may have been forced, the other three - Malik, Farhat and Adnan Akmal did not perform impressively against England in the UAE. Malik, who was not in Pakistan's original ODI and Twenty20 squads against England but included later at the request of the captain Misbah-ul-Haq, averaged 15 in two one-dayers. Farhat scored 66 runs in three matches, while Adnan Akmal played only two ODIs; his brother Umar kept in the matches that Adnan was not selected for.

Edited by George Binoy

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