Pakistan select five rookies for Test against Sri Lanka

February 18th, 2009 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Feb 18 (IANS) Pakistan cricket selectors Wednesday picked five uncapped players in their 15-man squad for the opening Test against Sri Lanka with captain Younis Khan having the final say in the team selection.
Chief selector Abdul Qadir announced the squad for the first Test starting here at the National Stadium from Feb 21 but during his press conference he conceded that most of the players were picked on the insistence of Younis.

“Younis is our captain, he is our general on the field which is why we have to respect his choices,” said Qadir, a former Pakistan leg-spinner.

The selectors have picked green-horn opener Ahmed Shahzad in the squad in spite of the fact that he wasn’t event included in the 22-man preliminary squad for the series.

“Ahmed Shahzad has been rewarded for his fine century against the Sri Lankans in the tour match,” said Qadir referring to the Lahore youngsters unbeaten 140 against the tourists in the two-day warm-up game that concluded Wednesday.

Apart from Shahzad, there are four more players in the squad who have not played Test cricket yet. Pacemen Mohammad Talha and Sohail Khan, opener Khurram Manzoor and all-rounder Fawad Alam were selected mainly on the basis of their domestic showing.

Middle-order batsmen Asim Kamal and Faisal Iqbal were recalled in the squad but there was no place in it for senior all-rounder Shahid Afridi and left-arm pacer Sohail Tanvir.

Qadir said that Afridi was overlooked because he was not an automatic choice for the playing eleven. “I believe that a senior player would only be selected if he is going to actually play in the match,” he said.

Qadir said that all-rounder Yasir Arafat was preferred over Tanvir on the basis of his fine showing in Pakistan’s last Test - against India in Bangalore in December 2007.

The 32-year-old Asim Kamal played the last of his 12 Tests against England in December 2005 in Lahore before losing his place due to poor form.

The selectors once again kept faith in under-performing wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal but Qadir made it clear that Akmal was preferred ovber young stumper Sarfraz Ahmed on Younis’s insistence. “Younis wanted to have Akmal in his team so we had to agree,” he said.

Akmal is Pakistan’s most experienced ‘keeper but has been under fire for quite some time because of his habit of dropping catches. There are five pacers in the squad but only one regular spinner in leggie Danish Kaneria, who returns to the Pakistan squad after an absence of 14 months.

Pakistan and Sri lanka will train over the next two days before clashing in the first Test from Saturday. The second Test will be played in Lahore from March 1-5.

Pakistan Test squad: Younis Khan (captain), Salman Butt, Khurram Manzoor, Ahmed Shahzad, Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq, Faisal Iqbal, Asim Kamal, Fawad Alam, Yasir Arafat, Danish Kaneria, Kamran Akmal, Umar Gul, Mohammad Talha, Sohail Khan.

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