Shoaib included in preliminary squad
Shoaib Akhtar has been included in Pakistan's preliminary 30-man squad for the Champions Trophy in September after the Lahore High Court temporarily suspended an 18-month ban imposed on him by the board. The board will also conduct dope tests on all the players on July 19 and 20, and those testing positive will be ineligible for selection.
The list has been the subject of considerable delay, after disagreements between the board and selection committee over a number of players. Shoaib's eligibility and Mohammad Asif's latest drugs saga further pushed back the announcement by a day.
Asif, understandably, is out as is Mohammad Yousuf, who has opted to pull out of the squad as the tournament will be played during the month of Ramadan. Yousuf had made the request some time ago, though last year and the year before, he played for Pakistan during Ramadan. In his place comes Mohammad Hafeez.
The selectors have also chosen five uncapped players in the squad: Mohammad Aamer and Ahmed Shehzad, both of whom are 16, as well as Azhar Ali, Mohammad Ali and Anwar Ali. Aamer's inclusion comes just days after former captain Wasim Akram had called for his selection during an interview with Cricinfo. Akram had earmarked Aamer as a future talent during a fast bowlers' camp in May 2007. Shehzad, Aamer's under-19 team-mate in the Pakistan team, has impressed as a batsman since making his debut last season, scoring 360 runs at 51.42 from eight domestic limited over matches.
Azhar, the Lahore batsman, has been rewarded for his consistent performances in the domestic circuit - he has made 1305 runs at 50.19 in first-class cricket, and 903 runs at 47.52 in List A matches. Mohammad Ali, the 18-year-old Sialkot seamer, has taken 41 wickets at 25.46 in his first year at the first-class level last season. Anwar Ali led Pakistan to their last under-19 World Cup win in 2006 and has hovered close to Pakistan selection since.