Fast bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and opener Imran Nazir have been recalled to Pakistan's one-day international squad after two years. Naved and Nazir have become the third and fourth Pakistan players to make comebacks to the national team after cutting ties with the unofficial ICL. Nazir's inclusion has come at the expense of Salman Butt, whose poor form has been a serious concern for the Pakistan management. However Butt, along with the rest of the squad, has been named in Pakistan's 30-man probables for the Champions Trophy.
Shoaib Akhtar was not picked in either squad because of uncertainty surrounding his match fitness, as Wasim Bari, the PCB director for human resources and administration, had earlier said.
Handed a maiden international call-up for the upcoming ODI series against Sri Lanka which starts at the end of this month is Umar Akmal - younger brother of wicketkeeper Kamran - who scored heavily on Pakistan A's tour of Australia recently.
While some national boards have set a 'cooling period' before players associated with the ICL are considered for selection, the PCB accepted players into official cricket immediately. "I'm back playing for my country and its a great feeling," Naved told PakPassion.net. "I got the call [on Tuesday] from the PCB and I was delighted to hear the good news".
Naved, 31, last played for Pakistan in the opening match of the 2007 World Cup against West Indies and was not only dropped for the subsequent matches but also omitted for the tours to Abu Dhabi and Scotland. Disenchanted with the set-up in Pakistan, he signed up with the unofficial ICL in February 2008. That virtually ended his career with Pakistan, but when the ICL accepted his resignation before the ICC World Twenty20 in June he found himself up for national selection.
"I'll be leaving for Lahore with my family and then leaving for Colombo on July 24 from Lahore," said Naved. "I will be as always giving my 100% effort and hope that I can justify my recall to the international team". Naved has played nine Tests and 62 ODIs for Pakistan.
Nazir, 27, recently returned to the official fold after ending his stint with the ICL, where he represented the Lahore Badshahs. Earlier this month Wasim Bari, Pakistan's interim chairman of selectors, publicly voiced his view that Nazir should have been an automatic choice for the World Twenty20 in England after making himself available for national selection. Nazir had a very successful stint with the Badshahs in the ICL with his explosive batting setting up his team's title win last year. He last played an ODI against India in Jaipur in November 2007.
Umar, 19, scored 283 runs at 94.33 in the unofficial Tests against Australia A and 155 at 51.66 in the three one-dayers that followed. The opener Nasir Jamshed and medium-pacer Rao Iftikhar Anjum, who were not at the World Twenty20, have retained their ODI spots from the series against Australia in the UAE. The ODI series in Sri Lanka will begin on July 30.
Mohammad Asif has also been named in the Champions Trophy probables after completing his one-year ban, as have other fast bowlers Sohail Tanvir, Yasir Arafat and 20-year old Mohammad Talha, who played the aborted Test against Sri Lanka in Lahore. Wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who played the last of his eight ODIs in 2008, left-arm fast medium bowler Wahab Riaz and opener Mohammad Hafeez also got recalls. The selectors have also included 23-year-old uncapped left-hand Karachi batsman Shehryar Ghani, who was Pakistan A's top scorer in the ODIs.
Pakistan ODI squad: Younis Khan (capt), Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wk), Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Aamer, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, Rao Iftikhar Anjum.
Pakistan Champions Trophy probables: Younis Khan (capt), Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wk), Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Aamer, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Salman Butt, Khalid Latif, Azhar Ali, Umar Amin, Sheharyar Ghani, Yasir Arafat, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Talha, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Abdul Rehman, Mohammad Hafeez.