Pakistan have recalled batsman Umar Akmal and fast-bowler Wahab Riaz for their three-Test series against England in the UAE, which begins on January 17th. Left-armer Junaid Khan has also been recalled, with seamer Mohammad Khalil and former captain Shoaib Malik both making way from the squad that toured Bangladesh.
Malik appears to have paid for his poor run of form in ODI cricket – he has 35 runs from his last six innings – with his Test place, while Junaid has returned from an abdominal muscle strain to retake his place in the 16-man squad at the expense of his replacement, Khalil, although his return in subject to him proving his fitness in a regional Under-23s match.
The PCB’s chief selector Mohammad Ilyas said off the squad, “There are some players who are dropped and some [who] are recalled, but nobody is out of the picture and can be selected only if they perform. [Shoaib] Malik may be dropped but he isn't out of the picture."
Meanwhile, the selections of Wahab Riaz and Umar Akmal are bound to cause a stir within England’s ranks, especially after the former’s run-in with Jonathan Trott last summer over the spot-fixing affair. Indeed, following the recent trial in London, both Riaz and Akmal were dropped from Pakistan’s Test squad, after allegations were made about their involvement in the affair during the trial.
This is something Riaz may have been referring to when he said, “It was tough for not being the part of the squad for some time, but I had a firm belief that things will be clear and I don't want to get into the details. What I know about me is that I am ready for yet another stint. I have kept myself fit and in form while playing domestic cricket so I don't think I will face any difficulty."
Nonetheless, it will be a shame if this is going to affect what is sure to be a closely fought series between the two sides, although it remains to be seen just how forgiving England are about the events of last summer.
Pakistan squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Adnan Akmal (wicket-keeper), Abdur Rehman, Aizaz Cheema, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Imran Farhat, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Talha, Saeed Ajmal, Taufeeq Umar, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Younis Khan.
England named their squad for the series at the beginning of the month and will play warm-up matches against an Associate XI and a PCB XI before the first Test.
The PCB XI squad is as follows: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain and wicket-keeper), Afaq Rahim, Ali Imran Pasha, Fawad Alam, Harris Sohail, Mohammad Ayub Dogar, Mohammad Khalil, Mohammad Talha, Nasir Jamshed, Raza Hassan, Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah.
© Cricket World 2011