Kamran Akmal axed for UAE series
Kamran Akmal has paid the price for his fumbles during the Australian tour, as well as his repeated statements to the press in the run-up to the Hobart Test, by being dropped from Pakistan's Twenty20 squad to take on England in Dubai on February 19-20.
The team will be led by Shoaib Malik, who captained in Shahid Afridi's absence in Melbourne, for both games. Afridi, Pakistan's regular Twenty20 captain, has been banned for two matches after being found guilty of ball-tampering in the fifth ODI against Australia in Perth. Having already sat out the Melbourne game, he will miss the first match against England on February 19.
Akmal was vice-captain for the tour, but dropped four crucial catches during the second Test in Sydney as Pakistan crashed to a shattering defeat. Until the last international of the tour, he didn't produce much with the bat either, a 33-ball 64 in the Twenty his only international fifty on the entire tour.
A series of belligerent comments to the Australian press in the aftermath of the Sydney Test, when he insisted he would be retained for Hobart, despite the PCB already having sent Sarfraz Ahmed as replacement and stated that he will play, has also not been looked upon kindly and is expected to lead to further sanction. The matter will be investigated by a board evaluation committee later this week, pending the submission of the tour manager's report.
There are other significant changes to the squad that toured Australia. Abdul Razzaq has replaced Naved-ul-Hasan, and Yasir Arafat has also returned. The fast bowlers Mohammad Talha and Wahab Riaz, with the Pakistan A side to play against the England Lions in Dubai, are also part of the squad, and Mohammad Aamer has been named in the reserves. Aamer picked up a groin injury that ruled him out of the last three ODIs and the Twenty20 in Australia. The selectors have also kept middle-order batsman Aamer Sajjad in the UAE with the senior squad - he is vice-captain of the Pakistan A team - as a reserve along with pacer Rao Iftikhar Anjum.
Pakistan are currently without a chief selector, Iqbal Qasim having stood down last week after Pakistan's Australian whitewash. He was asked to continue but refused to do so. This squad was selected, it is believed, with inputs from PCB chairman Ijaz Butt, the board's chief operating office Wasim Bari, and the existing selection committee. It is believed that Yawar Saeed, a former manager of the side and close to Butt, was also involved in the process, leading to speculation that he might be the new head of the committee.
Mohammad Asif will not be able to enter the UAE due to the authorities having refused to revoke the travelling restrictions imposed on the Pakistan fast bowler.
Pakistan squad: Shoaib Malik (capt), Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir, Khalid Latif, Shahid Afridi, Fawad Alam, Umar Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Yasir Arafat, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Talha, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul.
Reserves: Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Aamer Sajjad, Mohammad Aamer.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo