ICL: Indian Cricket League

Pace-dominated preliminary squad named for England


Pakistan on Thursday announced their 21-member preliminary squad for the tour of England, bringing back express fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami in the line-up.

Shoaib, who returns after surviving a career-threatening knee injury, and Sami are among seven speedsters included in the preliminary squad, a fact that clearly underlines Pakistan’s emphasis on pace for the away series against England.

Also making a return are opener Taufeeq Umar and middle order batsman Asim Kamal. Another left-handed opener Salman Butt, who was left out of the national team for the two one-day matches against India last month, is also on the list.

“We finalised the list after inputs from Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and coach Bob Woolmer,” chief selector Wasim Bari told ‘The News’ here on Thursday.

Bari had recommended 22 names for the preliminary squad but one of the players, Mohammad Hafeez, was later omitted. The prolific batsman has instead been retained in the preliminary list for the Pakistan A squad that is to tour Australia this summer.

Pakistan are to select their final 16 for the tour of England on June 9 after a fitness camp getting underway in Lahore from May 25. Apart from undergoing a fitness regime, the players will also receive fielding training from former South African star Jonty Rhodes in the second week of the conditioning camp.

“We have brought back a few players including Shoaib Akhtar but all of them will have to prove their fitness to be able to make the touring party,” said Bari. Shoaib recently made himself available for the tour saying that he is bowling fast in the nets and is not feeling any kind of problems with his knees.

The Rawalpindi Express has been out of the Pakistan squad since the final Test triumph over India in Karachi earlier this year. He underwent operations on both his knees in February and there were fears that his international career might be over.

Seen as one of Pakistan’s trump cards in the upcoming series, Shoaib is sure to be selected in the final 16 if he is able to prove his fitness in the conditioning camp.

Sami also returns after having left out of the tour of Sri Lanka this spring because of poor form. However, unlike Shoaib, Sami will have to fight it out with several other pacers gunning for tickets to England. Pakistan have selected seven fast bowlers in the preliminary squad which confirms the fact that the selectors and team management are looking towards pace ahead of the England tour.

Asim Kamal gets another chance after being dropped from the team after failing once against England at home last year.

Pakistan might also take three specialist openers, something that could add to Taufeeq Umar’s chances of making a comeback to the final line-up. Taufeeq was excluded from the side after last year’s tour of India.

“Taufeeq is a solid opening batsman and could be an asset for the team in England where the conditions could be tricky,” said Bari.

Apart from Butt and Taufeeq, Pakistan also have Imran Farhat and Shoaib Malik in the list. While Imran is a specialist opener, Malik is being groomed by coach Woolmer to graduate as a Test opener after his successes in one-day cricket.

Pakistan A team wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider has been selected as an understudy for Kamran Akmal.

The list: Inzamam-ul-Haq, Salman Butt, Imran Farhat, Taufeeq Umar, Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Faisal Iqbal, Bazid Khan, Shahid Afridi, Asim Kamal, Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Danish Kaneria, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Mohammad Asif, Rao Iftikhar, Mohammad Sami, Umar Gul and Zulqarnain Haider.

Source:The News

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