In a rather surprising decision, the Pakistan cricket Board on Tuesday announced the inclusion of former captain Shoaib Malik in the national squad for the one-day and Twenty20 series against England.
Just hours after the national selection committee had ignored Malik while announcing separate squads for the four ODIs and three T20 matches against England, the board did a U-turn insisting that captain Misbah-ul-Haq had requested for the inclusion of the all-rounder
“On the request of Pakistan team captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, the national selection committee has agreed to send Shoaib Malik to join the Pakistan squad for the ODI and T20 matches against England in the UAE,” the PCB statement said.
It, however, didn’t explain as to why the selectors had not accepted Misbah’s request for Malik earlier in the day.
“The whole incident smells of politics and nothing else. The board, the selectors and Misbah himself are making a mockery of themselves,” a former test selector said.
He said it was strange how in only a few hours the selectors had a change of heart in sending Malik.
Chief selector Mohammad Illyas was unavailable for comments as he was attending to the last rites of his brother who expired today.
Malik was dropped from the Pakistan squad for the Test series against England after poor form in the one-day series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Last year also, the board had sent Malik at the last moment to join the national squad in Zimbabwe just a day after he was cleared by the board’s integrity committee.
With the selectors having announced 16 players for the ODI series and 15 for the T20 matches, it is most likely that one player will be sent back from the UAE.
Malik’s inclusion is a bit perplexing as his run tally in the last five one-day innings is a mere 33 runs. His form in the T20s has shown a similar mediocrity as he has scored only 22 runs in the last 3 T20Is.
All-rounder Shahid Afridi returned to the 16-member one-day squad while right-handed batsman Hammad Azam, who played the last of his five one-dayers against Ireland in May 2011, was named in both the ODI and Twenty20 squads.
“We have selected a team that is a blend of experienced and young players. We have also called up some specialist one-day and Twenty20 players like Ovais Zia and Hammad,” chief selector Mohammad Illyas told Reuters.
“The team has won the test series comprehensively. But England are a top side and there is more hard work to be done in the one-day series.”
Uncapped Zia, the only new face in the Twenty20 squad, is an opener who was rewarded for scoring heavily in the format.
Afridi, who has quit test cricket, was confident Pakistan could replicate their test success against England in the limited over series.
“I think after the way we swept the test series we are in a very good position morally and psychologically to also win the one-day series,” Afridi told reporters.
Pakistan one-day squad:
Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Adnan Akmal, Hammad Azam, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Aizaz Cheema, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman.
Twenty 20 squad:
Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Ovais Zia, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Hammad Azam, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Aizaz Cheema, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman.