Misbah axed from all three formats
Misbah-ul-Haq's international revival seems to have come to an end, after he was left out from the squads in all three formats for Pakistan's upcoming series of ODIs, T20Is and Tests against New Zealand in the Middle East and New Zealand. Pakistan's selection committee have seemingly covered as many bases as possible in the three formats, recalling several forgotten names and forming an unusually large 18-man Test squad.
Misbah's form has been poor in all three formats over the last year, in contrast to 2007, when he reignited his dormant international career in sensational fashion at the World Twenty20 in South Africa and then on a tour to India. The emergence of Umar Akmal as a middle order prospect has, for now at least, brought Misbah's second innings to a close.
However, chief selector Iqbal Qasim hoped Misbah would regain form before the tour to Australia later this year. "He has been given rest because we think he is under pressure and needs time to regroup himself," Qasim said.
The other major theme to the squads is the return of opener Imran Farhat, who ends a two-year exile after his stint in the Indian Cricket League by being picked in all three squads. Pakistan's last few squads have lacked specialist openers; at the Champions Trophy, only Imran Nazir was a specialist in the position.
Alongside Farhat returns another left-handed opener, Salman Butt; he was dropped after a poor series in Sri Lanka this summer but is back in both the Test and ODI squads. According to the selectors, the left-hander was brought back to avoid reliance on makeshift openers. "Opening is a specialized field and we want to hand over this job to regular openers," Qasim said.
Nazir is retained in the Twenty20 squad. Khalid Latif, in imperious domestic form, has also been recalled to Pakistan's ODI and Twenty20 squads, offering another opening option.
There will be disappointment at the non-selection of fresh faces performing well in domestic cricket, particularly batsmen, but the selectors have recalled left-arm pacemen Sohail Tanvir and Wahab Riaz. The pair make up for the absence of Mohammad Asif from the first limited-overs leg of the tour; because of his deportation last year from Dubai, Asif is unable to travel back and so has been picked only for the Test squad.
Seven players - the Akmal brothers, Saeed Ajmal, Farhat, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul and Mohammad Aamer - find a place in all three squads. Younis Khan, after resigning and coming back in the last week as captain, will lead the Test and ODI side, and Shahid Afridi remains the Twenty20 captain.
After a lull in international assignments over the last two years, Pakistan suddenly find themselves embarking on a schedule that will keep them in action until February next year. They first play three one-dayers in Abu Dhabi starting November 3, followed by two Twenty20s in Dubai before heading off to New Zealand for a three-Test series. Following that, they move to Australia where they have another three-Test series and a series of five ODIs as well as a T20I. The large squads, in part, reflects the heavy schedule.
Tests: Salman Butt, Khurrum Manzoor, Imran Farhat, Younis Khan (capt), Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Fawad Alam, Faisal Iqbal, Kamran Akmal (wk), Danish Kaneria, Saeed Ajmal, Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer, Abdur Rauf, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmad
One-dayers: Salman Butt, Imran Farhat, Khalid Latif, Younis Khan (capt), Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal (wk), Abdul Razzaq, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Mohammad Aamer, Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Wahab Riaz
Twenty20: Khalid Latif, Imran Nazir, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi (capt), Kamran Akmal (wk), Abdul Razzaq, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Umar Gul, Mohammad Aamer, Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Saeed Ajmal, Imran Farhat, Fawad Alam, Sohail Tanvir