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December 10, 2012
Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan allrounder, has been dropped from the one-day squad for the tour of India in December, one of six changes made to the team that lost 1-2 to Australia in the UAE in August and September. Afridi retained his spot in Pakistan's Twenty20 squad, which also had six changes made to the outfit that went to Sri Lanka for the World Twenty20.
Apart from Afridi, the players cut from the ODI squad that went to the UAE were: left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, fast bowlers Aizaz Cheema and Sohail Tanvir, and allrounder Shoaib Malik. Asad Shafiq was also left out because of injury.
They were replaced by Younis Khan, Haris Sohail, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, and Zulfiqar Babar. Younis and Gul were making comebacks after being axed for the series against Australia. Fast bowler Riaz was returning to the squad after last playing in the Asia Cup in March, while batsman Sohail and left-arm spinner Babar received their maiden call-ups to the one-day squad.
"Dropping Afridi was a difficult decision," Pakistan's chief selector Iqbal Qasim said at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. "He is no doubt a great player and has the ability to win a game, but the decision has been taken in the interest of the team. We did retain him in the T20 squad and if he performs well he can win back his ODI place in the future. Meanwhile, we are looking for a youngster as Afridi's replacement and I am sure we will find the right man soon from the domestic circuit."
Pakistan lost the World Twenty20 semi-final to Sri Lanka and from that squad allrounders Abdul Razzaq and Yasir Arafat, and opening batsman Imran Nazir were left out. Shafiq and left-arm spinner Raza Hasan were injured.
Fast bowler Junaid Khan , who was a surprising omission from the World T20 campaign, returned to the squad, and Ahmed Shehzad, Babar, Asad Ali , seven-foot tall Mohammad Irfan and Umar Amin were the other inclusions.
Irfan had been selected in 2010 for an ODI series against England, but conceded 37 and 40 in first two matches and was dropped for the rest of the series. He has been on the domestic circuit since then and in this season's President's Trophy, he took 27 wickets in eight matches. He also took 11 wickets in the Faysal Bank T-20. He has been preferred ahead of Under-19 fast bowler Ehsan Adil, who was the second highest wicket-taker in the President's Trophy after Babar, with 53 wickets. Adil also took 10 wickets in four domestic T20 matches.
"Irfan is a surprise package," Qasim said, while explaining why Irfan was preferred over other notable performers. "Nobody is discouraged, I know we have Ehsan Adil and Imran Khan on the bench waiting for the call but they will be considered soon. They are our future prospects. Irfan currently is in good form and he has the height advantage and could be our surprise package. I am sure he will live up to our expectations and will perform very well."
"India's performance against England hasn't been good and their chips are down. Compared to our side, they have always relied heavily on their batsman and we were more effective with the ball. So, we have selected a balanced mix with the consensus of both the captains and the coach. We have always beaten them when we are consistent with the batting, with bowling as an advantage, so I hope these teams will have good results on the tour."
Pakistan are scheduled to play two Twenty20 internationals and three ODIs in India from December 25 to January 6. The players will assemble for a seven-day camp in Lahore between December 14 and 22 before leaving for India on December 22.
ODI squad: Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Kamran Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, Imran Farhat, Umar Akmal, Anwar Ali, Zulfiqar Babar.
Twenty20 squad: Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Umar Amin, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Asad Ali, Zulfiqar Babar, Ahmed Shehzad.
Additional reporting by Umar Farooq, ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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