Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul have been left out of Pakistan's 21-man shortlist for the ODI series against Zimbabwe which starts later this month. Shahid Afridi wasn't named either, but might yet make it to the squad if he does well for Patron's XI - which he will lead - against the Zimbabweans in a four-day game starting on Monday.
Shoaib and Gul broke down with fitness worries on the tour to India in 2007, which chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed said was the reason for not including them in the squad. "Akhtar and Gul will have to prove their fitness and that's why we did not consider them for selection in this probable list of 21," Ahmed was quoted by AFP.
Shoaib played all three Tests against India, but only in the first one was he fully fit. An illness before the Kolkata Test severely hampered his effectiveness, while he was troubled by back pain in Bangalore. Gul played the ODI series but was sent home before the Tests due to a back injury.
A number of new faces have been included in the squad as part of Pakistan's plans to test bench-strength against Zimbabwe before a challenging summer ahead. Anwar Ali, Pakistan's hero from the Under-19 World Cup in 2006, is included as well as Mansoor Amjad, the leg-spinning all rounder with two seasons for Leicestershire behind him. Shadab Kabir, who last played an ODI for Pakistan over ten years ago, also makes the squad after scoring 791 runs in the recently-concluded Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
Afridi, meanwhile, has been left out of the provisional squad due to poor form. He played four ODIs on the tour to India, but only scored 73 runs and took two wickets, and was omitted from the Test team. However, Ahmed told Cricinfo that Afridi might make it into the final 16-member squad for the first three ODIs. The 21 players named here and 15 from the Patron's XI will be in the reckoning for the final squad.
Zimbabwe start their tour with the game against Patron's XI, while the first of five ODIs will be played in Karachi on January 21.
Shoaib Malik (capt), Salman Butt, Shadab Kabir, Khurram Manzoor, Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Naveed Latif, Kamran Akmal (wk), Salman Ahmed, Rao Iftikhar, Sohail Tanvir, Yasir Arafat, Mansoor Amjad, Abdur Rauf, Rauf Akbar, Junaid Zia, Wahab Riaz, Anwar Ali, Tahir Khan, Saeed Ajmal.