Khalil replaces Junaid for Bangladesh tour
Mohammad Khalil, the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited left-arm seamer, has been named as Junaid Khan's replacement in Pakistan's Test, ODI and Twenty20 squads for the Bangladesh tour. Khalil, who has not played for Pakistan since 2005, got the call-up after Junaid picked up a partial strain in his abdominal muscle during Pakistan's one-day series against Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates.
Khalil, 29, is currently the joint-leading wicket-taker in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Division One, with 43 wickets from seven games. Twenty-one-year-old left-arm quick Sadaf Hussain, who also has 43 wickets in the current season, has been ignored, while Tanvir Ahmed and Wahab Riaz continue to be left out.
Mohammad Ilyas, Pakistan's interim chief selector, said it had been a tough decision and made special mention of Sadaf, saying he would be given an opportunity at some stage. "We had a four-hour deliberation to choose Junaid's replacement out of four potential bowlers and Khalil's name was finalised by consensus of the team management and the national selection committee," Ilyas told ESPNcricinfo.
"It was a tough call. They [the four candidates] all have talent but we had to choose one. It is a positive sign that we have such strong bench strength. Those who were not selected should not be discouraged, especially Sadaf. He is a future prospect and definitely will be handed a chance, but at the right time. This time Khalil was the best option. He is in the best form and condition of his career and has taken most of his [domestic] wickets against good teams."
The first time Khalil was picked in a Pakistan squad was for the Test series against Bangladesh in 2003-04. He didn't get a game then but played three ODIs and a Test on the tour of Australia in 2004-05. He managed five wickets in the ODIs but went wicketless in the Test and again failed to get a wicket when he played the Kolkata Test on Pakistan's 2005 tour of India. He went back to domestic cricket and finished the 2010-11 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy as the third-highest wicket-taker with 61 wickets at an average of 19.24.
Junaid is out of cricket for six weeks after he sustained a partial tear in his abdominal muscle while bowling during the fifth ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi. He will have to undergo rest and then rehabilitation. Junaid impressed in the Test series against Sri Lanka in the UAE, taking 12 wickets over the three Tests. He was left out for the first four ODIs but replaced Cheema for the dead rubber in Abu Dhabi. He bowled just three overs before leaving the field after experiencing pain in his abdomen. He was taken to hospital for an MRI scan and it was discovered he had a partial tear in his right abdominal muscle that will need six-weeks recovery time.
Khalil joins Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema and Mohammad Talha in the pace department for the Tests in Bangladesh, while the ODI squad has Sohail Tanvir along with Gul and Cheema.
Abdul Razzaq, the experienced allrounder, is also a doubt for the Bangladesh tour after he picked up a right shoulder injury in the third ODI against Sri Lanka. The PCB have not yet named a replacement for him.
The tour of Bangladesh begins with a one-off Twenty20 in Mirpur on November 29, after which there will be three ODIs and two Tests.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent