Razzaq, Kamran axed for West Indies ODIs and T20s
Abdul Razzaq and Kamran Akmal have been axed from Pakistan's combined ODI and Twenty20 squad for the upcoming tour of West Indies, while senior players Umar Gul and Younis Khan have been rested. Shahid Afridi remains in charge of a team that will feature a new wicketkeeper, Mohammad Salman.
The Test squad will be named at a later date and it is expected that Gul and Younis - the former had asked selectors for a rest from the limited overs portion of the tour - will return.
Kamran's wicketkeeping has been a source of concern for some time now, though various selectors have persisted with him in the belief that his batting provides the side with flexibility. But a poor World Cup campaign, with bat and gloves - the low hit in the game against New Zealand where he dropped centurion Ross Taylor three times, including twice early on, as well as fluffs in games against Sri Lanka and the semi-final with India - have finally proved too much. Coach Waqar Younis had hinted that it was time for a new wicketkeeper to be blooded, and Salman got the nod.
With 103 first-class games to his name, the Karachi-born Salman, 29, has been on the fringes of selection for a while. A few years ago he was thought by many to be the best wicketkeeper in the land though in recent times, he had been overlooked behind Sarfraz Ahmed, Zulqarnain Haider and Adnan Akmal.
"He is the best of the lot," Rashid Latif, former Pakistan captain and wicketkeeper, told ESPNcricinfo. Salman was Latif's deputy at Allied Bank Limited (ABL) in 2000 and worked with him later as well. "He came into ABL as my deputy wicket keeper and I worked with him then. After that we both joined Port Qasim Authority team in 2006, me as coach and Salman as a main wicketkeeper. He is an athletic man and a good batsman too for all formats."
Though the Test squad has not yet been announced, it is likely Kamran's younger brother Adnan will retain his spot in the side as the wicketkeeper.
Pakistan have also embarked on a search for a new allrounder, with the highly-rated Hammad Azam drafted in to replace Razzaq. The veteran Razzaq had a strange World Cup, playing all matches but almost as a spare part in the XI, taking only five wickets and making 104 runs.
He did not complete his quota of 10 overs even once, and managed only a single half-century, though he usually batted as low as number eight. He was often given the new ball, but taken off after short opening spells to make way for Gul and the spinners. After the first couple of games, he had expressed a desire to play a larger part in Pakistan's World Cup campaign, but continued to play a peripheral role.
Azam was a central figure in Pakistan's last U-19 World Cup campaign and was selected in the squad for the World T20 in the Caribbean last year, but he did not feature in a single game.
"At the moment there's no place for Abdul Razzaq and Kamran Akmal in the team," chief selector Mohsin Khan told reporters. "We want to try out few youngsters and that's why we have picked those players who have performed outstandingly in the domestic circuit."
Left-hand opening batsman Taufeeq Umar, who recently worked his way back into the Test side, is another surprise inclusion for the shorter formats. Aizaz Cheema, the 31-year-old seamer who plays for Punjab, has also received a call-up to replace Gul. Cheema has 221 wickets from 62 first-class matches, and will tussle for the new ball with Wahab Riaz, Tanvir Ahmed and Junaid Khan. Usman Salahuddin, another youngster who made an impression at the Under-19 level, also got the selector's nod for the tour. Salahuddin scored 927 runs in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy last year and will fight for a middle-order spot.
The tour kicks off with a warm-up game from April 18, while the only Twenty20 will be played on April 21 in St Lucia. The five-match ODI series will begin on April 23, and the Test leg of the tour will commence on May 12.
Squad: Shahid Afridi (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Taufeeq Umar, Usman Salahuddin, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Tanvir Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Hammad Azam, Aizaz Cheema and Mohammad Salman (wk)
Reserves: Rameez Raja (jnr), Sadaf Hussain, Asif Zakir, Sohail Khan, Zulifqar Babar