Pakistan recall Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq for WI ODIs
Pakistan have recalled batsmen Umar Akmal and Asad Shafiq for the upcoming three-match ODI series against West Indies in the UAE. Fast bowlers Sohail Khan and Rahat Ali have also been included in the 16-member squad. Sami Aslam and Umar Gul, who were in the squad for the England ODIs, have been excluded, while Mohammad Hafeez will miss the series due to an injury.
Both Shafiq and Akmal last played in the format in 2015. While Shafiq's previous match came in October 2015 against Zimbabwe in Harare, Akmal has not been part of an ODI XI since the 2015 World Cup.
Shafiq was picked after a strong showing in the recent National T20 Cup. He was the fourth-highest run-scorer with 310 at an average of 51.66 and a strike rate of 139.01. Akmal was recently recalled to the T20I side after assuring the PCB that there would not be any further issues with his conduct. He had been left out of the training camp in May, before the England tour, due to disciplinary reasons.
Hafeez has been rested after suffering a calf injury. Earlier, a similar injury had forced him out of the England series after the first ODI. The injury also kept him out of the T20I series against West Indies. Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam and captain Azhar Ali will fulfill the top-order responsibilities. Azhar's captaincy will also be under scrutiny in the series, following the 4-1 series defeat to England earlier this month.
Sohail, who has played 12 ODIs between 2008 and 2015, with the last one during the 2015 World Cup, was picked in place of Gul who had a disappointing series against England. Gul took 3 for 23 against Ireland but had a tougher time in the ODIs against England. He took three wickets in as many matches at an average of 54.
The squad also includes a specialist spinner in Yasir Shah and three spin-bowling allrounders - Mohammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim and Shoaib Malik.
The first and second ODIs will be played in Sharjah on September 30 and October 2 respectively, with the third match scheduled for October 5 in Abu Dhabi. Both teams will be looking to improve their rankings. West Indies are currently eighth on the ICC ODI Championship table with 94 points, while Pakistan are ninth on 86 points.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson