Bangladesh tri-series 2008 June 2, 2008

Pakistan pick full-strength 16-member squad

Cricinfo staff

A fit-again Mohammad Asif finds a place in the squad © AFP

Pakistan have stuck largely with the tried and tested in a 16-man squad for what will effectively be their toughest assignment of the year so far, the tri-series in Bangladesh involving India as the third side.

Disappointingly perhaps, of the many new faces trialled against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh earlier this year, only opener Nasir Jamshed and left-arm bowler Wahab Riaz find space on the plane to Dhaka.

Promising youngsters, such as openers Khurram Manzoor and Khalid Latif, fast bowler Sohail Khan and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed have been left behind. The last three are on the reserves list and will instead form part of a camp in Lahore for a pool of players to be considered for the Asia Cup and the ICC Champions Trophy later in the year. The trio, in particular Sohail, remain in contention for the Asia Cup, say the selectors..

"It is the best available team and a well-balanced squad," Salahuddin Ahmed, chief selector, told Cricinfo. "We are aiming for some continuity in selection and that shows with the selection of players such as Nasir Jamshed and Wahab Riaz."

The team was chosen after extensive discussions between the selection committee and Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan captain. The coach Geoff Lawson, however, wasn't present, having not arrived in time from Sydney. Lawson has had, at times, a testy relationship with the selection committee and his absence, it is believed, has not gone down particularly well with the PCB.

Though the squad was largely agreed upon, certain positions and players will be under the scanner during the tri-series, with the selectors keen to plan ahead for the Asia Cup and ICC Champions Trophy later in the year.

It is learnt that Kamran Akmal will open the innings with Salman Butt, a combination that Malik has publicly backed. But it has also been made clear, according to one of the selectors, that this is the last chance for Akmal to make an impact as an opener and failure could mean ouster from the team.

Shahid Afridi's form with the bat will also come under scrutiny during the tournament, one source close to the meeting suggesting that the captain was keen on Mansoor Amjad replacing the veteran all-rounder.

Bazid Khan, who made a fifty in his last ODI against Bangladesh is retained in the squad, as is Naumanullah, the middle-order batsman who made his debut against Bangladesh in the last ODI of the series in Karachi. Naumanullah has been among Pakistan's leading domestic run-scorers in the last five seasons, though at 32, an international debut appeared to have passed him by. It was felt he deserved another chance, having batted lower down the order on his debut.

Pakistan will be pleased that they can at least call on the services of their three premier fast bowlers in Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir and Mohammad Asif, who has seemingly recovered from an injury to his bowling hand, sustained during the IPL.

Pakistan squad: Shoaib Malik (capt), Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal (wk), Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Rao Iftikhar, Wahab Riaz, Fawad Alam, Bazid Khan, Naumanullah