Shoaib Akhtarâ€™s loss turned out to be Shahid Nazirâ€™s gain as the forgotten medium pacer was gifted a place in the 16-man Pakistan squad for this summerâ€™s tour of England on Thursday.
Shahid Nazir, who last played a Test for Pakistan in the spring of 1999, was among the six pacers selected for the marathon tour of England getting underway at the end of this month. He comes in place of Shoaib, who was ruled out of the initial part of the tour after it was revealed that an old stress fracture on his ankle would take some more weeks to heal.
Fast bowler Mohammad Sami made a comeback in the squad after missing a home series against India and the tour of Sri Lanka earlier this year because of poor form. Sami is fastest of the six quickies Pakistan have picked. As expected, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul and Abdul Razzaq also got the selectorsâ€™ nod.
The only surprise in the squad is the inclusion of the 28-year-old Shahid Nazir. The Faisalabad-born bowler last played for Pakistan in a One-day International (ODI) against Sri Lanka in March 2000 and has since been languishing in international wilderness.
Shahid, who has played eight Tests and taken 17 wickets apart from getting 19 wickets in 17 ODIs, was preferred over Rao Iftikhar and Mohammad Khalil.
â€œWe opted for Shahid because of his ability to move the ball, something that can make him useful in England,â€ chief selector Wasim Bari told â€˜The Newsâ€™.
He said Shoaibâ€™s unavailability had compelled the selectors and team management to look elsewhere and that is where Shahid came in.
Bari expressed that Rao was also in contention for a place, saying that the bowler has solid chances of making the cut for Pakistanâ€™s ODI squad later this summer and added that a couple of changes would be made to the team after the Test series. Pakistan will play five ODIs against England after the conclusion of a four-match Test series.
Rao, along with Taufiq Umar, Asim Kamal and young wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider, was retained in the national training camp as a reserve.
â€œIt is a consensus team,â€ said Bari adding that Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and the three selectors agreed in a meeting held on Wednesday night in Lahore that it was the best possible squad in the current circumstances.
â€œIt is a balanced team with a reasonable attack and a seemingly good batting,â€ commented Bari. â€œWe hope that it would do well in England.â€
Danish Kaneria is the only specialist spinner in the team but should get support from all-rounders Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi.
There were discussions on the various possible combinations after which it was decided to stick to just three openers â€” Shoaib Malik, Salman Butt and Imran Farhat â€” rather than adding another specialist opener Taufiq Umar to the side.
The issue of including a reserve wicket-keeper was also debated which, for a while, put substitute glovesman Zulqarnain Haider in contention for a place in the team. The argument raised in his favour was that it would be a long tour and Pakistan should have back up for Kamran Akmal.
But in the end the idea was dropped after an agreement was reached on the theory that the addition of an extra wicket-keeper might put Kamran under unnecessary pressure.
Pakistan squad: Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Salman Butt, Imran Farhat, Kamran Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Danish Kaneria, Faisal Iqbal, Mohammad Sami, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul and Shahid Nazir; Reserves: Taufiq Umar, Asim Kamal, Zulqarnain Haider, Rao Iftikhar.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Friday, June 9th, 2006 and is filed under General.
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