Pakistan news April 3, 2015

Ajmal back in Pakistan squad for all three formats

Saeed Ajmal last played for Pakistan in August 2014 © AFP

Saeed Ajmal has been picked by Pakistan for all three formats for the tour of Bangladesh, after his remodelled action was cleared by the ICC in February. Umar Akmal, who had a poor World Cup, was dropped from the three formats, while opener Ahmed Shehzad was left out of the ODI and Test squads, but found a place in the T20 side. Allrounder Fawad Alam, who was not picked for the World Cup, made a comeback for the ODIs as Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi's retirements vacated two spots.

Younis Khan's name was missing from the ODI squad, but the PCB said he was "rested." Fast bowler Junaid Khan returned to the Test and T20 squads after he missed the World Cup with a thigh injury, while Mohammad Hafeez was picked for all three formats. A calf injury had kept Hafeez out of the World Cup too, and he is yet to clear the ICC test, scheduled for April 9, with his reworked action after he was suspended last year. Wahab Riaz and Sohail Khan were rewarded for their performances in the World Cup - they were Pakistan's top two wicket-takers - by being picked for all three formats.

"We carried out an in-depth discussion about Pakistan's World Cup performance, our future strategy and how we can take the team forward," newly-appointed chief selector Haroon Rasheed said in a press conference in Lahore. "The Test ranking is good but the area of concern is the one-day team as our ranking is quite low, around seventh position. We need stability and the upcoming Bangladesh tour is very important and we have to give continuity to the team."

The selection panel made a whole host of changes for the Bangladesh tour. They named two new faces for the ODIs - wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan and left-handed opening batsman Sami Aslam, the Under-19 captain from the 2014 World Cup.

They left out an out-of-form Nasir Jamshed after he played three matches in the World Cup, making scores of 4, 1 and 0. He last scored an ODI fifty in July 2013. The selectors went for Asad Shafiq instead, who last played in the ODIs against New Zealand in the UAE in December. Shafiq has scored three fifties and a hundred this year in domestic one-dayers in Pakistan.

Shehzad and Akmal were the two main players to be dropped from the squads as both had underwhelming performances in the World Cup. Shehzad, whose best scores came against UAE and Ireland, made 227 runs at an average of 32.42 in his seven innings while Akmal could manage just 164 at 27.33. It is understood that apart from their performances, both players had discipline issues throughout the World Cup and their axing was mainly centred around their "attitude." The tour report from one of the key officials in the team management described both as "not into cricket."

Rasheed did not divulge the report on both players but dished out a strict message for them regarding discipline. "If you want to play for Pakistan, you have to fulfil the requirement of discipline and country should come first," Rasheed said. "Just not the off-field discipline but the cricketing discipline. Your job is to contribute towards Pakistan's victory. You have to keep your individuality aside. We will support all the players, but we expect thorough professionalism. For that, if we have to take some strict measures we will take it. It's a normal decorum; we have sent a message that cricketing discipline is more important to us. Performance must be for the benefit of the team and not the individuals.

"We have seen the World Cup performances. We are not against anyone's career, they are still available but they have to perform according to the merits and according to the team management's thinking and strategy. It's a combination of everything. The selection committee is taking independent decisions and there's no pressure. We will keep aside all the pressures and will try to select the best team. We will see where Pakistan team stands now, after one year and after three years."

From the Test squad that played against New Zealand in the UAE last year, Ehsan Adil, Imran Khan, Mohammad Talha, Shan Masood and Taufeeq Umar were left out, making way for uncapped batsmen Sami Aslam and Babar Azam, who averaged 53.62 in the recent first-class season and 63.44 in one-dayers.

The T20 squad from the previous tour in UAE left out Anwar Ali, Awais Zia, Raza Hasan to bring in Sohaib Maqsood, Rizwan and uncapped batsman Mukhtar Ahmed - a promising middle-order batsman with only five domestic T20s to his name. The 22-year-old batsman has scored two fifties and a hundred this year in one-day matches for State Bank of Pakistan, who won the President's Gold Cup in February. He has a T20 hundred and a strike rate of 161.15.

Fast bowler Mohammad Irfan, who was injured during the World Cup, was not available for the Bangladesh tour.

Pakistan's tour to Bangladesh is yet to be announced officially and has been delayed due to public holidays in Bangladesh. Pakistan are likely to arrive in Dhaka on April 13 to start the three-ODI series from April 17 in Mirpur.

Pakistan Test squad: Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Sami Aslam, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Haris Sohail, Saeed Ajmal, Yasir Shah, Zulfiqar Babar, Sarfraz Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Sohail Khan, Rahat Ali

Pakistan ODI squad: Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Azhar Ali (capt), Mohammad Rizwan, Haris Sohail, Sohaib Maqsood, Sami Aslam, Saeed Ajmal, Yasir Shah, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Ehsan Adil, Sohail Khan

Pakistan T20 squad: Ahmed Shehzad, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Hafeez, Mukhtar Ahmed, Sohaib Maqsood, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi (capt), Sohail Tanvir, Saad Nasim, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Khan, Umar Gul, Junaid Khan

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

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