Malik, Razzaq return in Pakistan T20 squad
Shoaib Malik and Abdul Razzaq have been recalled in Pakistan's Twenty20 squad for the two-match series against South Africa in the UAE. The selectors left out Asad Ali, Anwar Ali, Haris Sohail, Sarfraz Ahmed and Zulfiqar Babar from the squad that featured in the T20s against Zimbabwe.
Malik was part of the squad that played the solitary T20 match during the South Africa tour and played the Champions Trophy in England, but he was dropped from the team for the tours of West Indies and Zimbabwe. In August, he played in the inaugural edition of the Caribbean Premier League and finished as the leading run-getter.
Razzaq, 33, has been out of favour since the 2012 T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka following his outburst against captain Mohammad Hafeez after which he was fined Rs. 1 lakh and sidelined from the squad. Overall, Razzaq has played 30 T20s during which he has scored 383 runs at a strike rate of 119.68 and has taken 20 wickets.
Saleem Jaffar, the PCB selector, told reporters: "Both Razzaq and Malik have the ability to strengthen team before the World T20 because of their experience and ability in this version and that is why they have been selected.
"Razzaq is a useful cricketer and we felt he can play a good role in upcoming matches against the tough South African side. Although he is not in the same touch with his bowling, his batting can be very useful especially in Twenty20 and in conditions such as in UAE."
With the return of the two experienced allrounders, the younger players, who had been given chances over the last five months, have been pushed out, with only Sohaib Maqsood and Umar Amin left in the team from the group.
Umar Akmal, who was added to the one-day squad in the UAE after missing out on the tour to Zimbabwe, has been added to the T20 squad and will take up the role of the wicketkeeper. Zulfiqar Babar was ruled out of selection because of the hand-injury he suffered during the recently concluded Test series.
Jaffar said there were no concerns about Akmal's glovework and believes he can be a long-term option. "We don't feel he is a part-time wicketkeeper particularly in Twenty20. He is looking comfortable and happy in this role. Our experience with him in ODIs is also positive. He can get a permanent role as a wicketkeeper in T20s."
Squad Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal (wk), Umar Amin, Shahid Afridi, Sohaib Maqsood, Abdul Razzaq, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Malik, Abdur Rehman
In: Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Akmal, Abdur Rehman
Out: Asad Ali, Anwar Ali, Haris Sohail, Zulfiqar Babar, Sarfraz Ahmed
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here