Pakistav v England 2011-12 December 26, 2011

Umar Akmal returns, Malik dropped, for England Tests

ESPNcricinfo staff

Umar Akmal, the Pakistan batsman, has been recalled to his team's Test squad for the series against England in the UAE. Left-arm seamers Wahab Riaz and Junaid Khan are also back in the squad, and Shoaib Malik and seamer Mohammad Khalil, who toured Bangladesh, have been left out.

Malik was dropped after a run of poor performances with the bat in ODIs. He hasn't played a Test since August last year and has managed just 35 runs in six innings since his return to the national team in September this year. Khalil, a left-arm medium-pace bowler, was part of Pakistan's touring squad to Bangladesh but didn't play a game. He had replaced Junaid Khan, who suffered an abdominal muscle strain, for the Bangladesh tour and Junaid's return to the squad against England meant Khalil lost his spot.

Junaid's inclusion is still subject to him proving his fitness. He is training at the National Cricket Academy and will be playing a match for his regional Under-23 team on December 31.

"There are some players who are dropped and some are recalled but nobody is out of the picture and can be selected only if they perform. Malik may be dropped but he isn't out of the picture," the PCB's chief selector Mohammad Ilyas said at a press conference at the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore.

Riaz's selection ends his unexplained six-month break from cricket - his last Test was against West Indies in May this year. His name came up during the spot-fixing trial of Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir in a London court in October, as part of a written statement from Pakistan's security manager, Major Khwaja Najam Javed, which was read out by the prosecution.

In the statement, Najam said he had found Azhar Majeed, the brother and business partner of Mazhar Majeed, in Wahab's hotel room after midnight, along with Butt and Kamran Akmal during the Oval Test. Businessman and player agent Mazhar Majeed had pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments.

"It was tough not being the part of the squad for some time. But I had a firm belief that things will be cleared, I don't want to get into the details," Riaz told ESPNcricinfo. "What I know is that I am ready for yet another stint. I have kept myself fit and in form while playing domestic cricket so I don't think I will face any difficulty." He turned in a strong domestic performance for National Bank of Pakistan in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, with 30 wickets in six games at 24.86.

Umar has achieved a fair amount of success in the limited-overs formats and burst on to the Test scene with a century on debut against New Zealand in Dunedin in 2009. But he hasn't scored a century in 29 innings since, often getting starts but not pushing on for a big score. He was left out of the Test series against Sri Lanka in the UAE but has won his place back at Malik's expense against England.

Pakistan have had an impressive 2011, drawing a series in the West Indies, winning against Zimbabwe followed by Sri Lanka in the UAE before sweeping Bangladesh 2-0. They play England in a three-Test series, starting January 17 in Dubai, followed by four ODIs and three Twenty20 internationals. England will play two tour games ahead of the Tests, including one against a PCB XI led by Sarfraz Ahmed.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Amman on December 29, 2011, 19:19 GMT

    @kari hood- all the batsmen???? younis khann???? averages 52 in Europe (england) where obviously it swings a lot and averages 55 in Oceania where there is swing and bounce in Australia and New zealand. Seriously people need to get there facts straight before posting on cricinfo

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    all the pakistani batsmen have awful techniques against good seam bowling. if the english bowlers get it right pakistan will be in big trouble. pakistan's biggest talent is ajmal he will be the key to troubling the english because some of them dont play spin that well. eg cook. but morgan and pietersen are great against spin. and pakistan's butterfinger fielding will be another problem they need a fielding coach i think.but hopefully it will be a good series and its nice to see wahab riaz back. tired of umar gul though he is overrated and bowls rubbish he and poor fielding cost pakistan the worldcup semifinal. my prediction england will win 3-0 but it will be an interesting serie with some good battles.

  • xeeshan on December 29, 2011, 7:09 GMT

    Faizan Feroz, please note that Imran Farhat has scored 401 runs from 2010 with batting average 33.41 in one day cricket. I think we should not use Hafeez as an opener in one day too. Use regular openers like Ahmed Shehzad, Shahzaib, Imran Farhat and others. Why it is so, just see AUS, they never use non specialist openers. At top four position, your strength should be there because after 4th wicket, almost match goes to opponent. See example of Shahid Afridi as a opener. quick scorer with slogging abilities (unorthodox style). It means he is unable to develop partnership at opening postion. If he score 30 runs he takes only 25-30 balls, it means you lost his wicket within first 10 overs. We can use Afridi at lower order. During slogging if we have one or two sixes in last overs that is our bonus. You may set the target like after 38 - 40 overs, he should be at crease. We have too much verities of spinners but in other places beside Asia, we have to think about that how can we win.

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2011, 5:30 GMT

    umar akmal you rock welcome in test team.........................................

  • Amman on December 28, 2011, 23:50 GMT

    @ZA77- mate are you actually serious!! Firstly, kamran akmal, said by many pundits, commentators and others is the worst wicketkeeping batsman in the history of cricket. Ian chappel once said that even if he scored like bradman, he wouldnt be able to make up for what he costs pakistan with his keeping. We lost in england because of him he dropped around 20 catches that whole series. As for his batting he averages 10 last year- now if you say thats good seriously pick another sport to follow. Sarfaz Ahmed averages 45 in first class cricket better than akmal who averages in the 30s As for farhat, worst test opener pakistan has produced end of. He cant make runs against top teams and at least hafeez has been in form lately. and again farhat cant field at all. Farhat does not add stability to the opening slot he is literally a walking wicket.

  • Dummy4 on December 28, 2011, 23:48 GMT

    @ZA77: You may have better cricketing sense, but I don't understand on what basis you are favoring Farhat? Hope you understand batting techniques? Farhat technically is not a regular opener. He cannot handle out swinging deliveries, and England have bowlers who can swing ball well especially to left handers. This out swing problem is always with left handers and added to that Farhat is technically not a good opener.

    @ALL: Azhar Ali is not good for all conditions. Azhar Ali can be good, where we need to draw the match like in English conditions or Australian conditions, but not in sub-continent, here we need to make runs and not only to spend days on pitch (though it is necessary to stay on pitch), in addition to that, he is not a good form right now and struggling to make runs, England can exploit his weakness.

    In test we need 5 regular bowlers and 5 regular batsmen, so I think we should go with 3 fast bowlers and 2 spinners, which England is also going to do.

  • Tom on December 28, 2011, 14:14 GMT

    Newzealand showing against Australia and now Srilanka's wonderful performance against South Africa shows Pakistan status as a top cricketing nation is not fluke. I think England is by far the best cricket side in the world and has edge over Pakistan in all department but the Pakistanis are not far behind and if they achieved some good results out of this series than they will surely become the top side of the world.

  • xeeshan on December 28, 2011, 13:54 GMT

    Highest runs score in test by top ten opening pairs in term of runs only. 1. Gordon - Desmond 6482 runs, 2. Hayden - Langer 5655, 3. Sanath - Marvan 4469, 4. Cook - Strauss 4147+, 5. Slater - Taylor 3887, 6. Sehwag - Gambhir 3692+, 7. Larry - Simpson 3596, 8. Hobbs - Sutcliff 3249, 9. Gavaskar -Chauhan 3010, 10. Gibbs - Smith 2983. 2nd best opening pair in India, Gavaskar plus Chauhan. Chauhan never scored any hundred in test but he had place in top three opening pair in India. His batting average is 31.57 with 16 half centuries in 68 innings. Why he got such a great chance, not because of average. Same case of Imran Farhat, although he is not best but has ability to play at opening position. That is main point which mostly people unable to understand. His average is 31.87 with 3 centuries and 14 half centuries in 75 innings. Please try to understand if openers are not regular, how can we win at big ocassion. Hafeez is doing nothing but grabbing chances against weak attacks.

  • Dummy4 on December 28, 2011, 12:22 GMT

    @za77 if u talk abt imran farhat he has scored only 149 runs in 6 matches and he only manged 16 runs in 2 matches against bangladesh !! but is till agree tha t 1 day and tests are two different formats ( hafeez also nt performing that well in odis last 6 to be precise ) but then also he is not your solution taking the fact that hafeez is in splendid form with the ball which also affects on his batting !! but on kamran/s issue i totally agree with u that he needs to comeback after pakistan has failed to produced a wicketkeeper batsman of his calibre !!

  • xeeshan on December 28, 2011, 10:56 GMT

    You are right but our best wicket keeper plus batsman in history of cricket is Kamran Akmal. Why? only one with six centuries in career plus second one after Wasim Bari with more than 200 victims in test matches. Due to heavy pressure, it happened. Give trust to him and then he can prove himself. Moin Khan scored 200 runs in first class and then he scored 158 in test match. At that time, it was looking like Moin was coming back but Kamran proved himself. It means he has talent with dual abilities to prove himself. See Ian Healy, unable to stump Inzamam and lost the series in Pak. Then in W. Indies same thing, unable to stump Lara and again lost that match. 2 - 2 series equal but no one blame him. I am not saying that he is equal to Healy. For me, in current scenario, Kamran Akmal is better choice in test. For those argue for Hafeez, they should accept him as a specialist opener. For me, he is not specialist and that is the case that I am trying to make all of you understand.

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