Mohammad Hafeez has been dropped from Pakistan's Test squad for the forthcoming tour to Sri Lanka. The selectors have recalled Younis Khan to the ODI squad, while Umar Akmal, who last played Test in September 2011, has been called up for the longer format after nearly three years in place of Hafeez.
Hafeez has been struggling in Test cricket and was dropped from the squad for the South Africa series in the UAE last year. However, he was recalled for the Tests against Sri Lanka and scored 113 runs in two games, including a fifty, after which he was dropped for the final Test of the series. In five Tests against South Africa and Zimbabwe in 2013, Hafeez had scored 102 in 10 innings. He fared poorly against the moving ball on Pakistan's tour to South Africa and struggled against their pace attack.
Younis, a regular in the Test team, last played an ODI for Pakistan in March 2013 and has been handed a chance in place of Asad Shafiq. Younis had recently stated that he wanted to revive his ODI career before the 2015 World Cup and aimed to retire on his own terms rather than be dropped for good by the selectors. Shafiq, meanwhile, has been retained in the Test team.
Najam Sethi, then Chairman of the PCB, had pressed for Younis' inclusion*. "Younis is a popular player and there is huge demand for his inclusion in the one-day side which is why I told the selectors and management he should be in the side for Sri Lanka."
Younis acknowledged the faith from the administration and hoped to live up to it. "I am looking at this positively and I will try to not let down either the chairman, the selectors or team management with my performances in one-day matches in Sri Lanka," he told PTI.
With Mohammad Irfan out due to fitness issues, Pakistan's fast-bowling attack will be led by Junaid Khan. Irfan is expected to return to limited-overs cricket this year, ahead of the 2015 World Cup. Umar Gul was ruled out after aggravating a knee injury recently. He insisted he was fit for the shorter formats but the selectors have refrained from picking him and have asked him to rest.
Left-arm pace bowler Wahab Riaz, who last played a Test in 2011 against West Indies, has replaced Gul in the squad. Riaz's last ODI for Pakistan was in November last year and he has not established a regular place in the side due to inconsistent performances. He was also recently fined Rs. 500,000 (approximately $5000) by the PCB for playing disapproved cricket in the United States. However, Riaz was among the fittest players during a month-long training camp in May and this was a significant factor in his inclusion.
The selectors have ignored wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal despite his recovery from a finger injury, opting instead to back Sarfraz Ahmed, whose quickfire 49 helped Pakistan pull off an astonishing chase in the Sharjah Test against Sri Lanka. Allrounder Bilawal Bhatti has been axed to fit fast bowler Mohammad Talha in both the teams.
Pakistan will play two Tests in Galle and Colombo from August 6 and 14 respectively before the teams play a three-match ODI series between August 23 and 30.
Test squad: Ahmed Shehzad, Khurram Manzoor, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Talha, Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali, Wahab Riaz
ODI squad: Ahmed Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Anwar Ali, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Talha, Wahab Riaz, Zulfiqar Babar
*This story has been updated with Najam Sethi's support for Younis Khan on Thursday