Pakistan news May 21, 2017

Umar Akmal to return from England after failing fitness tests

Umar Akmal had recently been recalled to the Pakistan ODI squad © Getty Images

Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal has been asked to return from England after he failed two fitness tests in two days, ahead of the Champions Trophy next month. The selectors are considering Umar Amin and Haris Sohail as replacements.

"He has failed two fitness tests during the ongoing camp there in England ahead of Champions Trophy," PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan told ESPNcricinfo. "So since we have a policy not to carry unfit players, it has been decided to call him back and send a replacement. We have a deadline until May 25 so we are deliberating on the possible replacements."

Amin and Sohail have not played ODIs for a few years. Amin's last match was in October 2014 while Sohail played his last ODI in May 2015 in Lahore against Zimbabwe.

Akmal had been recalled to the ODI squad for the Champions Trophy, after being dropped from the team that toured West Indies in April. He had initially been excluded from that squad as well, after he was the only player, among 31, to fail the fitness test during the camp held at the NCA in March. However, he proved his fitness during the Pakistan Cup in Rawalpindi.

In an annual assessment earlier this year, Akmal had weighed 91kgs with a fat-level reading of 115.6 - a measurement of over 100 is considered high.

Fitness has become a priority for Pakistan in the recent past, with the PCB backing the selectors and the team management to enforce strict policies. "We had a set a fitness standard which isn't really a tough one to start with," chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said. "But he still didn't meet the average level. So whoever the player is, whatever his performance is like, we could not select him. Akmal being dropped is a reprimand and it's a major blow for any player. He is a good player, we needed him, but we had to take a decision."

Akmal has also been involved in several disciplinary issues since his debut. In March last year, former coach Waqar Younis recommended that Akmal be made to earn his spot again in the national squad with consistent performances in domestic cricket. Earlier this month, he was also involved in a spat with Junaid Khan during the Pakistan Cup.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

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