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September 26, 2013
Batsman Umar Amin was named captain of the Pakistan A side for the three-day match against South Africans in Sharjah on October 8. The announcement of the national Test squad has been deferred until next week though a 28-man squad for a conditional camp has been named. The Pakistan Cricket Board, however, confirmed that Misbah-ul-Haq would remain Test captain despite their first loss to Zimbabwe in 15 years.
Misbah's captaincy came under severe criticism for Pakistan falling short in the first ODI before their loss in the second Test. In addition, Pakistan have won only one of five Tests this year - against the No. 9 ranked Zimbabwe - and are looking to remedy a 0-3 defeat in South Africa earlier this year.
Amin has not played a Test in three years after he was axed during the 2010 tour of England that was marred by a spot-fixing scandal but is widely regarded as a future captain. He was the leading run-scorer, with 767 in nine matches at 45.11 in the President's Trophy last season. He was subsequently called up to the limited over squad and has been in national contention for last eight months.
The 15-man squad comprises mainly of young batsmen - Shan Masood, Ahmed Shehzad while last season's top run-getter in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Akber-ur-Rehman, also found a place in the squad. With 986 runs in ten games, Rehman hit three centuries and three half-centuries, including highest score of 225. Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali who have been in the national side since 2010 have also been included in the squad, along with middle-order batsman Faisal Iqbal.
Shafiq is battling a dip in form over the last year, scoring 242 runs at 24.20. Although his promotion into the Test squad looks imminent, the selectors have picked him in the A side to find some touch along with Azhar, who apart from one innings in the first Test against Zimbabwe has been found wanting with the bat.
Iqbal, 31, has played 26 Test matches since making his debut in 12 years ago and was the captain of the previous A team that toured West Indies in 2010. They drew both unofficial Test, lost T20 series and managed to secure unofficial three-match ODI series by 2-0. Though Iqbal's last appearance for Pakistan was in 2010, he has been part of the Test squad for past one year.
Umar Gul, Mohammad Irfan and Taufeeq Umar are the major absentees from the probables for the preparatory camp. Gul, who suffered a knee injury earlier this year is not fit for the longer format and Irfan, also fielding questions regarding his fitness in Test match cricket, is seen as a limited-overs specialist.
Pakistan A squad: Shan Masood, Ahmed Shehzad , Azhar Ali, Umar Amin (capt), Faisal Iqbal, Asad Shafiq, Ehsan Adil, Ahmed Jamal, Akber-ur-Rehman, Usman Qadir, Yasir Shah, Sohaib Maqsood, Aizaz Cheema, Imran Khan, Muoammad Rizwan (wk).
Probables for camp: Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Adnan Akmal (wk), Abdur Rehman, Shan Masood, Khurram Manzoor, Ahmed Shehzad , Azhar Ali, Umar Amin (capt), Faisal Iqbal, Asad Shafiq, Ehsan Adil, Ahmed Jamal, Akber-ur-Rehman, Usman Qadir, Yasir Shah, Sohaib Maqsood, Aizaz Cheema, Imran Khan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Zulfiqar Babar, Yasir Shah.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Umar Farooq
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