Asia Cup 2010 June 3, 2010

Shoaib Akhtar recalled for Asia Cup


The two Shoaibs, Akhtar and Malik, made comebacks which would rightly be considered remarkable anywhere else but in Pakistan, as the PCB announced a 15-man squad for the Asia Cup, due to begin in Sri Lanka from June 15. There are a few new faces in the squad as well, but much of the attention will fall on the returning pair.

The fast-bowling Shoaib, nearing 35, last played for Pakistan over a year ago and had been off the selection radar since. But a sudden, impressive comeback in the domestic Pentangular limited-overs tournament and some weight-loss put him back in the frame. Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan captain, was keen to have him in the squad and he underwent a rigorous fitness test yesterday, bowling as many as 12 overs. Though some management officials weren't entirely convinced of his general fitness initially, he seems to have passed approval.

"We got an okay from the medical team and Shoaib [Akhtar] was given a good report so he has been picked," Mohsin Khan, chief selector, told Cricinfo. "We took the both of them to nets yesterday and gave them an extensive playing and fitness test, for nearly five hours and I'm happy to say both of them passed it."

Fitness, of course, was never an issue with Malik. Only a few months ago he had been banned by this very board for a year from playing for Pakistan for being, vaguely, a poor disciplinary influence on the side. But after a frankly farcical judgment, in which the board said they monitored him over three months of no cricket and found him to be rehabilitated, he is also back in the squad.

Ijaz Butt, PCB chairman, had said last week that Malik was free to return for Pakistan though the board of governors had to ratify the decision first; whether or not that is the case could not be confirmed by the board. Mohsin did say, however, that all the selected players had been granted approval by Butt. There was speculation prior to the announcement that Afridi wasn't keen on selecting Malik because of their fairly-publicised differences; the issue will no doubt rear its head in coming weeks.

There is a first call-up to the ODI format for Shahzaib Hasan, the no-nonsense opener, who played a quiet yet key role in Pakistan's 2009 World Twenty20 triumph. Space has also been found for some new faces in the middle order. Both Umar Amin and Asad Shafiq have impressed domestically for some time and have hovered on the fringes of national selection. Both are rewarded with call-ups to bolster an order that will be missing Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf. "The pair has been on the selectors' radars for some time now," Mohsin said. "We've been very impressed by them and we all thought this is a good time to give them a go."

The arrival of this pair and the return of Malik means there is no place for Fawad Alam in the squad; given that he was one of the very few bright lights in Pakistan's last ODI assignment, the 5-0 whitewash in Australia where he averaged nearly 40 in three ODIs, it seems strange to reward him with a place among the stand-bys. "Fawad has a very bright future ahead of him we all know that," Mohsin said. "There is a lot of cricket coming up, in England, against South Africa, so there will be more opportunities later."

With the return of the two Shoaibs, the touring party is a potentially volatile one, threatening to keep Yawar Saeed, the team manager, busy. Kamran Akmal is the first-choice and only wicketkeeper in the squad and travelling with him will be Aaqib Javed, the assistant coach who made allegations against Akmal of deliberately underperforming in a PCB inquiry.

After various selectorial run-ins in his short stint, Mohsin was keen to stress that the composition of the squad left no stakeholder unhappy. "This is a balanced side and it has been selected with the approval of everyone - the captain, coach and selection committee - so there is no question of any disagreement."

Squad: Shahid Afridi (capt), Salman Butt (vice-capt), Imran Farhat, Shahzaib Hasan, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Asad Shafiq, Umar Amin, Kamran Akmal (wk), Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer, Shoaib Akhtar, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman.

Reserves: Fawad Alam, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Zulfiqar Babar.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adrian on June 7, 2010, 23:13 GMT

    It's good to see Shoaib back cuz i think the team was missing quick pace especially in the 20/20 format. i also think he has aggression that the team needs. Us Pakistani's have to start playing with our strengths cuz dats what all the other teams do. Ezpecially Australia they have talent but IMO i think Pakistan is way talented even India and Sri Lanka has more raw players then the Aussies so they have to utilize what they have in this series coming up (Asia Cup) otherwise the English tour will be for the whole team.

  • muhammad on June 7, 2010, 23:11 GMT

    if every one else is comig back to the team then why cant rana naved this shows how strong is ijaz butt with his decisions and prove he is not man of his words

  • Harsh on June 7, 2010, 20:24 GMT

    What i think is that, PAKISTAN have an amazing side this time around...

    You see.

    Afridi Butt Malik U Akmal K Akmal Farhat amin Akhtar Aameer Razzak Ajmal

    Asif . bla bla

  • Dummy4 on June 7, 2010, 17:45 GMT

    @Arshad Mahmood

    Its an Indian squad with 8 regular players rested..... Mind it...... And coming to Shoaib Akhtar..... he is no more the man he used to be..... Its way too easy for even the youngest of the Indian ranji players to score off......!!!!!

  • Dummy4 on June 7, 2010, 16:38 GMT

    Pakistan still need a steady batsmen like Younis Khan. Malik, Afridi, Razzak and Akmal brothers are not consistent performers

  • Naeem on June 7, 2010, 9:51 GMT

    The squad selection (minus the exclusion of Fawad) could be a master stroke or go up in smoke (Ash cloud equivalent to anything heading from Iceland)....Afridi will be key bcoz he cant afford to show the dignity of Y Khan - he needs to be ruthless and to a point a dictator when it comes to handling the Pak psychology......

    He needs to be aggressive, as the team doesn't understand playing placid or percentage cricket and hope the talent and luck support this approach. Success in the upcoming tours will shape the team and its Afridi's own form with either the ball or the bat - like Imran,has to command respect through his words and performances........

    Also, will help if he doesn't get peckish on the ball ;)

  • Dummy4 on June 7, 2010, 9:44 GMT

    Powerful Bowling Attack:

    Shoaib Akhtar Mohammad Amir Shahid Afridi Umar Gul Saeed Ajmal Abdul Razzak

    The show begins now ! :)

  • ali on June 7, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    Its seems that Osman Samiuddin is always ready & quick to write somthing spicy about pak cricket. There are two ways of lookinng on something. Glass half full or empty and Osman always see it has half empty :-). Good to see Shoaib Akthar back again

  • Fareed Hussain on June 7, 2010, 8:22 GMT

    The Cricket lovers in Pakistan are very happy to see Rawalpinid Express back, an hope Shoaib Malik will show his talent in Batting at no Three position in the team but no body wants to see again the dirty politics in the team. Hope tis time they will be successful in making a real team combination. Wish Pakistan Good Luck in Asia Cup.

  • bla on June 7, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    this should be the pakistani team in the right oder salman butt shazaib hassan kamran akmal yonas khan umar akmal shaib malik shahid afridi abdurazzaq mohammad amir shoiab akhtar / yasir arafat / umar gul saeed ajmal PLZZZ i hope this is the team, all these players are perfect for all formats of the game maybe they should try it in this order

  • No featured comments at the moment.