ICL: Indian Cricket League

Pakistan selectors hand recalls to Asif, Naumanullah


Ruthless Pakistan are looking to stretch their lead to 4-0 in the one-day series against Bangladesh and plan to bring in ‘fit-again’ Mohammad Asif and rookie medium pacer Wahab Riaz for the fourth one-dayer in Multan on Wednesday (tomorrow), writes Khalid Hussain.

Sources told ‘The News’ on Monday that Asif, who has been out of international action since last October, is all set to make his Pakistan return after getting a clearance from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) medical board. He is likely to replace medium pacer Rao Iftikhar Anjum in the pace attack.

Asif was picked in the Pakistan squad for the last two one-dayers of the series, just a week before the lanky pacer makes an appearance in the much-hyped Indian Premier League (IPL). The bowler informed chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed in Lahore the other day that he has fully recovered from a chronic elbow problem and wants to play against Bangladesh. The selectors later received a confirmation from the PCB medical experts that Asif has been cleared to make his international return after which he was included in a 16-man squad named for the last two one-dayers.

Asif, 25, received a key-hole surgery on his troublesome elbow in Australia last December after missing the tour of India. Later, he also missed the home series against Zimbabwe earlier this year.

Though Pakistan have brought him back, it remains to be seen whether Asif is fully match fit or just wants to warm up for the IPL in which he would be playing for Delhi at a price tag of US$650,000.

Sources said that most selectors and PCB officials want Asif to extend his rehabilitation programme but the bowler himself is very keen to play competitive cricket.

Meanwhile, Pakistan are also considering another change in the pace attack and are expected to drop left-arm medium pacer Sohail Tanvir and give another opportunity to Lahore youngster Wahab Riaz, who made his international debut against Zimbabwe in the fifth one-dayer in Sheikhupura earlier this year.

In what was his only one-day appearance for Pakistan, the 22-year-old impressed by taking three wickets in a tight eight-over spell in which he gave away just 19 runs.

Sources said that the national selectors were not impressed by Sohail Tanvir’s performance in the third one-dayer in Lahore when Bangladesh gave Pakistan a run for their money by coming close to chasing a mammoth 308. Sohail gave away 55 runs off nine overs in the high-scoring match that Pakistan won by 23 runs to lead five-match the series 3-0.

While the Rawalpindi player is set to sit out, his namesake Sohail Khan is likely to retain his place in the playing eleven.

The selectors have dropped injured opener Nasir Jamshed and replaced him with Naumanullah, rewarding him for a prolific domestic season. The talented batter was the top-scorer in the 2007-08 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, scoring 949 runs in 10 matches at 63.26 with a highest of 176. He is the third highest scorer in the domestic season after Nasir Jamshed (1,353) and Khurram Manzoor (1,283) with a total of 1,235 runs in 15 matches with four 100s and five 50s. But he is unlikely to play in Multan as the selectors want to persist with Bazid Khan at number three in place of Younis Khan who had opted out of the last three one-dayers.

The Pakistanis are planning to make a few more changes for the final one-dayer in Karachi on Saturday in which they are likely to field Naumanullah and young wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed.

Squad: Shoaib Malik (captain), Salman Butt, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul Haq, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Rao Iftikhar, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz, Fawad Alam, Bazid Khan, Naumanullah, Sarfraz Ahmed.

Source:Cricket News

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