Pakistan selectors retain Shoaib Malik for Sri Lanka series

October 3rd, 2011 - 6:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Oct 3 (IANS) Pakistan’s former skipper Shoaib Malik has been retained for the “home” series against Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates, beginning Oct 18.

Malik was recalled to the national team for the recent tour of Zimbabwe after getting clearance from the Pakistan Cricket Board’s integrity committee, more than a year after Pakistan’s controversial tour to England.

Malik, however, did not play the Test there and hardly had any impact in the ODIs and Twenty20 internationals. He, however, has been roughing it out on the domestic circuit, and finished as the second-highest run-getter in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Division One last season, with 799 runs at an average of 73.57.

Pakistan’s chief selector Mohsin Khan said Shoaib has been included in the Test squad because of his form, not his Twenty20 performance.

“Shoaib is not selected on the basis of the ongoing Twenty20 Cup but what inspired us was his fitness and the form he is currently in,” Khan was quoted as saying in espncricinfo.

“I was actually feeling rusty during the Zimbabwe tour but after playing the domestic Twenty20 I feel I’ve regained my touch,” said Malik.

While focusing on cementing his place in the national side in all forms of cricket, Malik said regaining the captaincy wasn’t a priority. “I am focusing on my form and captaincy is secondary for me.”

Malik, who has played 32 Tests, had been at his best against Sri Lanka, both his Test centuries coming against them. His average of 59.75 from nine Tests against the island nation is far superior to his career average of 33.45.

He was recalled to the national team for the Zimbabwe tour after the integrity committee of the Pakistan Cricket Board cleared him more than a year after Pakistan’s controversy-ridden tour to England.

A notable omission from the 15-member squad was Umar Akmal, younger brother of former wicketkeeper Kamran. The batsman, who has been struggling for form over the past two years, has been advised to take time to work on his game. Mohsin said Akmal “was not justifying his place in Test cricket”.

Umar’s exclusion means Asad Shafiq and Shoaib Malik will be fighting for a middle-order spot.

The third Akmal, Adnan, has been included as the wicketkeeper.

Pacemen Umar Gul and Wahab Riaz come back along with Aizaz Cheema and Junaid Khan. Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman is also back in the squad.

Imran Farhat has been retained as a third opener along with Mohammad Hafeez and Taufeeq Umar.

The first of three Tests starts starts in Abu Dhabi.

Squad: Mohammad Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar, Imran Farhat, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-haq (capt), Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal (wk), Shoaib Malik, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Aizaz Cheema, Wahab Raiz, Umar Gul, Junaid Khan.

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