Kamran, Misbah-ul-Haq in ODI squad to play NZ
Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal has finally returned to a Pakistan squad, picked on Wednesday for the ODI series against New Zealand. The squad for Pakistan's last assignment before the 2011 World Cup is effectively a shadow squad for the tournament; Akmal changes places with his younger brother Adnan, who misses out.
Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who played only two ODIs last year, against South Africa in the UAE before he was dropped for the final three, also returns. That means no place for the veteran Mohammad Yousuf, who has been effectively dropped from both Test and ODI cricket over the last month or so. His chances of appearing in the World Cup, at this stage, appear slim. Opener Ahmed Shehzad returns to the side, suggesting he is a serious contender for a World Cup berth.
Kamran has not been part of the national side since the summer tour of England and his absence had been surrounded by confusion, which his return does little to clear up. Speculation linking him to the spot-fixing scandal has been rife, but in October he received written clearance from the ICC stating that he had no ongoing cases against him in the ICC.. Since then, he has been scoring heavily on the domestic circuit. However, he was not "given clearance" to play the Tests and Twenty20s in New Zealand by the PCB's integrity committee, which did not provide details about why that decision was taken.
The 19-year-old Shehzad, who made a promising debut last year against Australia in the Middle East, played all three Twenty20 games against New Zealand, scoring 83 runs at an average of 27.66 and a strike-rate of 150.90, with a top score of 54.
Misbah made 14 and 17 in his two ODIs against South Africa and did not feature in the Twenty20 games against New Zealand. Shahid Afridi has been retained as captain. Pakistan will play six one-dayers against the hosts, with the first game taking place in Wellington on January 22.
Pakistan ODI squad: Shahid Afridi (capt), Muhammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal (wk), Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Umer Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Abdul Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Umer Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanveer, Tanveer Ahmed, Ahmed Shehzad