Pakistan in New Zealand 2015-16 January 1, 2016

Mohammad Amir back in Pakistan limited-overs squads


Fast bowler Mohammad Amir has been selected in Pakistan's ODI and T20s squads for the upcoming limited-overs tour of New Zealand. This is Amir's first national selection since serving out his ban for spot-fixing in the Lord's Test of 2010. His inclusion is subject to his visa coming through - given he has served time in jail for his role in the spot-fixing, obtaining a New Zealand visa might prove problematic - though the PCB is confident of not having issues on that front.

Azhar Ali, who had earlier attempted to quit his role as ODI captain to protest against Amir's return to the national radar, remains in charge of the one-day team. Mohammad Hafeez, who had joined Azhar in his protests, was selected in both squads.

Asad Shafiq returned for the one-dayers, after being dropped for the ODIs against England, Pakistan's previous assignment, which they lost 3-1 in the UAE in November. Legspinner Yasir Shah was the big name missing from the ODI squad, expectedly, given he is provisionally suspended after testing positive for a banned substance.

Fast bowler Umar Gul, who has missed out since the away limited-overs series against Bangladesh in April 2015, returned to the T20 squad. Middle-order batsman Saad Nasim also returned. Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir and Junaid Khan missed out in the shortest format, making way for Amir. Pakistan's previous T20 series was also against England, in the UAE, which they lost 3-0.

Haroon Rasheed, the PCB chief selector, said of Amir's selection: "Policy-making is the PCB's prerogative and after his clearance he was selected. We didn't have to axe any players [such as Irfan, Tanvir or Junaid] to force him in, but he imposed himself with his performance. In case Amir fails to get visa, we will name a replacement later.

"Irfan is in our plan and he is a proven talent but we wanted to try a different combination and hence dropped him. We wanted to try Umar Gul instead - we saw his domestic performance and understood that he is ready again, and now we want to see how good he can be at the top level."

According to Rasheed, Pakistan's biggest issue would be their fielding. "Both the squads are balanced but at the same time we will have to compete with a tougher opponent. New Zealand have excelled in every department of the game. Pakistan have to fight hard to give them a tough time. But we do have a good bowling armoury. The only reason I see we can lose is due to the fielding, which is a weak link. If we manage to pull ourselves up in the field, then I do not see any reason Pakistan will lose."

Pakistan named only two specialist openers - Ahmed Shehzad and Hafeez - but Rasheed said Sohaib Maqsood and Sarfraz Ahmed would be available to open if required. "Both Sohaib and Sarfraz are marked as an option for the opening slot and it's up to the team management to take a call if they want to use them in the top order." Maqsood's ability up the order was tested during the recent Pakistan A T20 series against England Lions, where he made 17, 40, 3, 38 and 40.

Pakistan play three T20s and three ODIs in New Zealand from January 15. The T20s will be played in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington, before the ODIs kick off from January 25 in Wellington, Napier and Auckland.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shoaib S. Muhammad on January 5, 2016, 3:36 GMT

    Pity on PCB selectors. We dropped a guy whose average in ODI is 40 with strike rate of 75. None of current ODI player has more avg than him except Azhar Ali. Fawad Alam, i dont know when selectors will select on merit. Alas

  • Aqib on January 4, 2016, 19:01 GMT

    The real problem is we are sticking with players in certain positions where they do not belong. Hafeez has been given the no 3 slot for some reason in both t20 and odi when he is an opening batsman. The teams balance has been terrible. Azhar Ali is not a odi batsman. Babar Azam was our best batsman vs England in the odis. Looked naturally the most agressive..,has an amazing t20 record and is continuing to be overlooked because they feel they owe the senior players a place in the squad. It's terrible selection and management.

    My odi team- Babar Azam, Ahmed Shezad, Mohammed rizwan, Harris sohail, shoaib malik, shoaib maqsood, imad wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammed amir, wahab riaz, Mohammed irfan.

    T20 team- Babar Azam, Sarfraz/kamran akmal, shoaib Malik, umar akmal, shoaib maqsood, shahid afridi, imad wasim, anwar Ali, Mohammed amir, wahab riaz, moahmmed irfan.

  • Don on January 3, 2016, 14:07 GMT

    Pakistan was playing with the 2nd and 3rd set of fast bowling (2nd set:Wahab, Irfan, Umer Gul and Junaid),(3rd set: Imran Khan, Rahat Ali,Sohail Khan and Ehsan Adil), Fast bowling is always the strength of Pakistan, Aamir inclusion in the team and Junaid's return from injury can take PAK fast bowling to the 1st set (Wahab, Irfan, Junaid and Aamir) which will be key for the coming matches and rest future competitions

  • Hasan on January 3, 2016, 1:36 GMT

    To all those who speak morality and preach unforgiveness, please step forward who have pristine and immaculate morality and have never committed deceit - big or small!! Would you be willing to wear scarlet letter for as long as he did? Forget 5 years, be willing to wear it for a day and let the whole world decide whether you deserve a 2nd chance and take it off!!

  • kamran on January 2, 2016, 19:10 GMT

    don't hope for anything better until.Waqar is there.

  • Ishant on January 2, 2016, 19:04 GMT

    Rohianand: "We have seen many players like Barry Richards,and many player from the great SA team of 1970s' not being able to play.Can't see Amir like that. He must play"

    Ummm, Richards, Pollock, Procter, and Co. couldn't play because of the crimes of their country, not due to their own misdeeds. Horrible analogy.

  • Ishant on January 2, 2016, 19:00 GMT

    @Saffant: Who would hire the fraudulent stockbroker? No way his former employer would.

  • asad on January 2, 2016, 18:55 GMT

    The best thing about Amir's return to ODI team is that Anwar no longer has to open the bowling. If Anwar had bowled better then all the pressure that Irfan built up on the other end would have translated to wickets which in turn would mean that Pakistan would win a few more games. I think Asad Shafiq selection in the ODI team is useless as he could really only replace Babar Azam but as Babar showed in the ODI series that he's a quality player. We need to get Haris Sohail & Sami Aslam also in the team to strengthen our batting. The team should be: 1. Azhar Ali, 2. Ahmed Shehzad, 3. Mohammad Hafeez, 4. Babar Azam, 5. Shoaib Malik, 6. Imad Wasim, 7. Sarfraz Ahmed/ Mohammad RIzwan, 8. Anwar Ali, 9. Wahab Riaz, 10. Mohammad Amir, 11. Mohammad Irfan. After Mohammad Hafeez predictably fails in the first games, we should drop him & either include Sohaib Maqsood or have both Rizwan & Sarfraz in the team.

  • Affan on January 2, 2016, 15:41 GMT

    @HSK Poor analogy. A better analogy would be if a stock broker was banned from the market, after serving his time he'd be able to return still to the stock market business. Amir has been cleared and hence can return.

  • Pruthvi Sabnis on January 2, 2016, 10:38 GMT

    i dont support this decision ... not having him back in the team would have been a great exaple for others

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