Pakistan drop Afridi, Umar Akmal
Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan allrounder, middle-order batsman Umar Akmal and fast bowler Sohail Tanvir have been left out of the ODI squad for the Champions Trophy in England this June. Fast bowlers Ehsan Adil and Asad Ali, and batsman Umar Amin, were selected, after they had been omitted from the tour of South Africa.
Pakistan's selectors met in Lahore on Monday to trim the 29 probables - Umar Gul was unavailable because of injury - down to 15 for the Champions Trophy, as well as the ODIs in Ireland and Scotland. The announcement of a Pakistan squad is usually made before 7pm (PKT) but the selection committee did not emerge until at 10.45pm after getting the approval Zaka Ashraf, the PCB chairman, at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.
"Afridi had been selected as a bowling allrounder but he was not up to the mark and couldn't score at crucial occasions so we had to left him out," chief selector Iqbal Qasim said. "His career is not finished, if he performs at domestic level, he can stage a comeback. He is an asset to Pakistan, and as long as a player is performing he keeps on playing, if he doesn't perform he goes out of the team."
Afridi had been dropped from Pakistan's squad for the ODI series in India in December 2012, but was chosen for the trip to South Africa because of his skill as a legspinner. He failed to take a wicket in 37 overs, though, and scored 126 runs in four innings with a high score of 88. Since the start of 2012, Afridi's taken only 15 wickets in 21 ODIs, and five of those came in one game against Afghanistan. His batting average during this period is 19.
"Had he scored at the domestic level he could have earned the place," Qasim said. "It's always difficult to drop such a senior player but ultimately selectors have to take a decision for the sake of the team."
Pakistan have named five specialist fast bowlers, two full-time spinners while Mohamamd Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Amin fill the allrounder roles. Besides Afridi, Pakistan had already left out Younis Khan from the initial squad, but Wahab Riaz, the left-arm quick, has been retained despite a poor showing in South Africa.
Amin, a left-hander who also bowls right-arm medium pace, played four Tests and three ODIs in 2010 while Asad was selected for the India ODI series but did not it into the playing eleven.
"We have picked the squad from the best available resources after consulting the captain and the input from the coach," Qasim said. "There obviously were arguments but when the team is made, it's made with consensus."
Pakistan are in group B for the early stage of the tournament which includes the enticing prospect of a clash against India, plus matches against West Indies and South Africa. "Pakistan indeed has a tough pool but our team is good and has the ability to do well," Qasim said. "Pakistan always has a good record in the international events and I am hopeful that the players will play at their potential to produce good results."
The PCB also named Trent Woodhill, a former assistant coach of New Zealand, as their batting coach for three weeks during the tournament in England.
The squad will now train in Abbotabad from May 3 to 9 before departing for Scotland.
Squad: Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal, Misbah ul Haq (capt), Shoaib Malik, Asad Shafiq, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Asad Ali, Wahab Riaz, Umar Amin, Abdur Rehman, Ehsan Adil
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here