Pakistan have left Younis Khan out of their ODI squad for the series against Australia in the UAE. Younis made an ODI comeback last month, during the Sri Lanka tour, not having played 50-over cricket for Pakistan since March 2013. He scored 3 in his only innings of the series before he had to fly home following the death of his nephew.
The selectors’ decision to drop Younis is a blow to his stated aim of playing in next year’s World Cup and chief selector Moin Khan said it would be hard for the batsman to be considered for the World Cup squad. In Younis’ place, Pakistan have brought back the middle-order batsman Umar Amin and Asad Shafiq.
“Our experiment with Younis in the ODI series in Sri Lanka backfired,” Moin said. “Now all have unanimously decided to look ahead to our future with youngsters. His services for Pakistan are commendable but now we have to take a step forward and he is also out of contention for the 2015 World Cup.”
Justifying Umar Amin’s selection, Moin said: “Umar Amin’s current form and performance helped him win his place back and we are satisfied with his fitness level and current form. He himself is a keen player and kept himself thriving for top-level cricket. Hence we handed him another chance.”
Pakistan have also left out the opener Sharjeel Khan and the fast bowler Mohammad Talha, and recalled the wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, rewarding him for his form during the Test series against Sri Lanka, in which he made scores of 55, 52*, 103 and 55 in successive innings. Sarfraz last played ODI cricket in August 2013. His return suggests Umar Akmal could play as a specialist batsman.
With the enforced absence of Saeed Ajmal, who has been banned from international cricket for bowling with an illegal action, Pakistan have brought back the left-arm spinner Raza Hasan, and have left out Zulfiqar Babar, who was part of the squad that toured Sri Lanka. Moin backed Raza and said the 22-year-old spinner would need time to get settled.
“We have inducted Raza Hasan and he is young and good enough to fill in for Ajmal but obviously he can’t achieve the level of Ajmal overnight,” Moin said. “He will need some time to get himself settled.
“It’s up to the captains of both the T20 and ODI teams and how they carry him and play him. His recent form, fitness and attitude are good enough for him to be preferred ahead of many other contenders. Otherwise, you know we have many offspinners in our system who have questionable bowling actions and we can’t afford further disgrace in international cricket, as recently a lot of players have been reported in Pakistan.”
Pakistan have made plenty of changes to their T20 squad from the one that played the World T20 in March, in addition to the appointment of Shahid Afridi as captain. Saad Nasim, the 24-year old middle-order batsman, has earned his first national call-up. Nasim was key to Lahore Lions winning the Faysal Bank T20 Cup and is currently playing the Champions League.
Junaid Khan misses out, with fellow left-arm seamers Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Irfan taking his place. Anwar Ali is in for the injured Umar Gul, while the batsman Awais Zia returns for the first time since February 2012. Sharjeel and Babar have been left out, as have Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal, who were surprise inclusions for the World T20.
The pattern of selection for the Australia series showed that the selectors had taken a bold step of shutting the door on a few senior players, like Malik, Kamran Akmal and Younis Khan. ESPNcricinfo understands there was an intense discussion between the selection committee, coach and captain but everyone unanimously decided to “move on” and give the younger lot confidence ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
“We all know where our team stands at the moment and I don’t want to show a dream pasture. But what I can confirm is that we have a potential to compete against Australia,” Moin said. “We are positive all the boys selected have the ability and to compete hard up to the level of the opponent. We are banking on youngsters but even Australia’s own build-up isn’t big. They have also inducted many young players with few seniors with them.
“Conditions and pitches are in our favour as we have been playing in the UAE as our home away from home. The Australia team will give us a hard time but we also have to play hard cricket to get positive results and that is exactly the message that has been given to the team. So I will not say we will definitely win with this lot, but I can assure that these players will give a fight.”
The PCB also announced its A teams, for a series of five one-day games against UAE and a four-day match against the Australians. Asad Shafiq will lead the side in the four-day game between October 15 and 18, while the team for the one-day matches, to be played between October 19 and 31, will be captained by Sohaib Maqsood.
Pakistan ODI squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal , Fawad Alam, Umar Amin, Asad Shafiq, Sohaib Maqsood, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Raza Hasan, Mohammad Irfan, Anwar Ali, Wahab Riaz, Junaid khan
T20 squad: Shahid Afridi (capt), Ahmed Shahzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Umar Amin, Sohaib Maqsood, Awais Zia, Saad Naseem, Raza Hasan, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Bilwalal Bhatti, Anwar Ali, Sohail Tanvir
A squad for four-day game Shan Masood, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq (capt), Harris Sohail, Israr Ullah, Adnan Akmal, Raza Hasan, Karamat Ali, Imran Khan, Atta Ullah, Rahat Ali, Ehsan Adil, Mohammad Talha
A squad for one-dayers against UAE Sohaib Maqsood (capt), Sami Aslam, Sharjeel Khan, Nasir Jamshed, Harris Sohail, Babar Azam, Ehsan Adil, Imran Khan, Zafar Gohar, Bismillah Khan (wk), Karamat Ali, Bilawal Bhatti, Adil Amin, Usman Khan, Atta Ullah