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Younis and Shoaib get top contracts

Kamran Akmal ponders the simple chance that he dropped to give Andrew Strauss a reprieve Getty Images

Younis Khan and Shoaib Akhtar were the biggest beneficiaries in the new list of central contracts given to 19 players by the Pakistan board. Neither player was given a contract last year, but they are now among the seven men in the top category of contracts given out for the six-month period starting January 2011. Kamran Akmal, too, was in the top bracket a day after his abysmal performance behind the stumps against New Zealand in the World Cup.

Legspinner Danish Kaneria was the worst hit, not finding a place in the list after having been awarded a Category A contract last year. Imran Farhat, Faisal Iqbal and Fawad Alam were among the other players overlooked by the PCB. Kaneria was the subject of an inquiry by the PCB prior to the announcement of the World cup squad, along with Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik. While Kamran was picked in the fifteen, Kaneria and Malik were ignored and have now also found their names missing from the list of contracted players.

Misbah-ul-haq has moved up a grade from a Category B contract to Category A, following a successful year in which he assumed captaincy of Pakistan's Test side. Asad Shafiq and Ahmed Shehzad, both of who are in Pakistan's World Cup squad have been given Category C contracts. The 19-year-old Shehzad recently scored his maiden ODI century, while Shafiq has scored two half-centuries in his three Tests.

Also in Category C are Adnan Akmal, who replaced his brother in the Test side for the series against South Africa in Abu Dhabi, Tanvir Ahmed, who took a five-for on debut in the same series, and 21-year-old quick Junaid Khan, who is part of Pakistan's World Cup squad.

Sohail Tanvir also missed out on a contract after an injury-filled year.

List of contracted players

Category A: Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar

Category B: Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Abdul Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz

Category C: Taufiq Umar, Asad Shafiq, Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Adnan Akmal, Tanvir Ahmed, Junaid Khan