KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) selection committee, which is working without its chief selector, yesterday announced the squads for the upcoming tour of Zimbabwe, describing it their ‘best effort under the current circumstances’.
Former greats had said they wanted to see a bigger ratio of youngsters in the squad for the tour, however, the selection committee, currently under the supervision of former Test cricketer Salim Jaffer, refrained from making wholesale changes with a few old names recalled back to the team.
Pakistan, who are scheduled to play two Tests, three One-Day Internationals (ODI) and two Twenty20 matches in Zimbabwe later this month, saw six changes in the Test squad.
Opening batsman Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Irfan were sidelined along with Haris Sohail, wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, Taufeeq Umar and injured Umar Gul, who were all part of the Test series squad against South Africa.
Imran Farhat, who lost his place in the ODI team after a dismal show at the ICC Champions Trophy, was handed yet another lifeline by the PCB selectors as the opener was added to the Test squad. Farhat was called to the Test squad that faced South Africa as a replacement for Taufeeq, who flew back home during the tour owing to an injury.
Meanwhile, Khurram Manzoor was finally rewarded after impressing with consistent performances at the domestic level as the opening batsman was recalled after three years of endeavour. Adnan Akmal was also called back in the format to keep wickets with the other replacements including Wahab Riaz and Rahat Ali.
Karachi player Anwar Ali received a double delight as the 25-year-old fast-bowler was named in both the squads for Twenty20s and ODIs while it was the other way round for Riaz, who was not included in the limited-overs teams.
The prospects for Sohaib Maqsood to burst on to the international scene also brightened as the promising batsman received a call-up to the national team for the Twenty20 matches for the first time. He was included in place of Hammad Azam, who was named captain of the national U23 team for the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) U23 Emerging Cup 2013 that is scheduled to run through August 15-26 in Singapore. Umar Akmal was retained for a dual role as wicket-keeper and batsman for the limited-overs series.
‘Wholesale changes wasn’t a smart idea’
Meanwhile, Jaffer said that they did their best to include youngsters and at the same time, ensured that a strong team was sent to Zimbabwe.
“It’s an important tour in terms of our world rankings,” the selector told The Express Tribune.
“The rankings for the World Test Championship will start with this series. Secondly we have risen to number two in Twenty20s which we have to maintain.”
However, he admitted it was not the perfect scenario for team selection.
“We faced difficulties due to the crisis as we have been directed late to name squads. We also faced difficulty in communicating with Misbahul Haq [Test and ODI captain] and Mohammad Hafeez [Twenty20 captain] as they are in the West Indies for the Caribbean league.”
To a query regarding Farhat’s inclusion, Jaffer said the opening batsman had been given another chance on the basis of his performance during the last domestic season.
He also said that they included Adnan instead of Sarfraz Ahmed as wicket-keeper because of the latter’s repeated failures.
“Adnan, we felt was a better option than Sarfraz for Tests who failed repeatedly,” he said. “As for Irfan, we want him to stay out from Tests for a while.”
“Manzoor, Anwar and Maqsood were selected based on their consistent performance in the domestic circuit.”
Tour itinerary announced
Pakistan are scheduled to leave on August 19 as the itinerary of the tour was also announced earlier yesterday.
The tour will open with the two T20 matches in Harare that will be played on August 23 and 24.
The ODI matches will be played on August 27, 29 and 31 at the same venue that will also host the first Test from September 3.
The second Test will be played in Bulawayo from September 10 with the team’s return scheduled for September 15.
M Hafeez (captain), N Jamshed, A Shahzad, U Amin, U Akmal (wk), S Maqsood, S Afridi, S Ajmal, S Tanvir, M Irfan, J Khan, Z Babar, Asad Ali, Anwar Ali, H Sohail
Misbah (captain), N Jamshed, A Shahzad, M Hafeez, A Shafiq, U Akmal (wk), U Amin, H Sohail, S Afridi, S Ajmal, M Irfan, J Khan, Asad Ali, Anwar Ali, A Rehman
Misbah (captain), M Hafeez, K Manzoor, I Farhat, A Shafiq, Y Khan, A Ali, F Iqbal, A Akmal (wk), J Khan, W Riaz, E Adil, R Ali, S Ajmal, A Rehman
Moin appointed team manager
The PCB replaced Naveed Akram Cheema with Moin Khan as the manager of the team for the Zimbabwe tour.
The former captain was earlier chosen as the chief selector but the decision was deemed null and void after court orders.
“It was a must to appoint a manager after Cheema’s resignation,” said a PCB official. “It falls in our day to day affairs and we hope it’s not a violation of the court’s directives.”