Faisal Iqbal makes a return to the national side three years after his last Test appearance © Getty Images
Faisal Iqbal, the middle-order batsman, and Umar Gul, the fast bowler, have been included in Pakistan's squad for the third and final Test against India starting at Karachi on Sunday.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) clarified, however, that Shoaib Malik was not considered for selection owing to the untimely death of his father yesterday. Iqbal, 24, scored an impressive 87 for Pakistan A in India's tour opener at Lahore, while Gul's career-best 5 for 31 was instrumental in Pakistan's victory over India in the second Test at Lahore in 2003-04. Over the past year, though, he has battled a stress fracture in the back and was not selected for the recent series against England.
Wasim Bari, the PCB's chief selector, said Iqbal's drafting in was a back-up option in case Inzamam-ul-Haq, suffering from a back strain, were to rule himself out of the third Test. "Inzamam has improved but we will only know about his chances of playing the final Test in the next three days, so Iqbal is a good back-up," Bari told AFP. "We have included Iqbal because of his prolific form in domestic matches." Bari also said that Shoaib Akhtar was carrying a niggle in his right ankle. "Akhtar is not a major worry but as a precaution we have included Gul. Hope Akhtar gets fully fit for the Test which could decide the series."
Asim Kamal, the middle-order batsman, was overlooked due to the fact that he skipped an ongoing domestic tournament because of his father's illness, while Hasan Raza missed out because of a hairline fracture sustained recently.
Pakistan squad Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Younis Khan (vice-capt), Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Sami, Salman Butt, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Kamran Akmal, Arshad Khan, Danish Kaneria, Imran Farhat, Mohammad Asif, Faisal Iqbal, Umar Gul