Afridi still skipper, Akmal recalled for New Zealand ODIs


LAHORE – The Pakistan Cricket Board Wednesday recalled wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal in the squad for the six one-day internationals against New Zealand. The selectors retained Shahid Afridi as skipper ending speculations that Misbah could replace him as captain and did not consider Mohammad Yousuf for the one-day series.
The PCB selection committee announced that Misbahul Haq would work as deputy to Afridi amid speculations that the ‘regional card’ had some role in the decision. Batsman Ahmed Shahzad has also been included in the team.
There were calls from former cricketers that Misbah should be made captain of the one-day team in place of Afridi who is out of form.
The captaincy decision came at a time when majority of the PCB officials were in favour of Misbah and were ready to take the tough decision. But a source said that growing opinion in favour of Misbah forced certain quarters to exert pressure on the board to retain Afridi as captain.
Misbah, the leading Pakistan scorers in the Test series against New Zealand, featured in just two ODIs in 2010.
He was dropped from the ODI team after the Champions Trophy in 2009 but featured in two one-dayers against South Africa in October. After scoring 14 and 17 in Abu Dhabi, he was again dropped. He again came back as Test captain and performed brilliantly.
Kamran Akmal was successful in retaining his place in the team after nearly six months of isolation. He was one of three cricketers who were asked by the PCB to submit details of their assets and bank details of the last three years. The PCB integrity committee after deliberations and scrutiny of papers allowed his inclusion in the 30-player preliminary team for the 2011 World Cup. Former captain Shoaib Malik and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria are the other two players left out.
Yousuf who was included in the preliminary World Cup squad last week, was left out. Experienced fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul will be supported by three other pacemen Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir and Tanvir Ahmed.
Opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad, 19, who played the last of his four ODIs against Australia in 2009, has also been recalled by the selectors.
The six-match ODI series begins at Wellington on Jan 22. The tour selection committee for the ODI series will comprise manager, coach, captain and vice captain, said an official of the board.
Team: Shahid Afridi (captain), Misbah-ul-Haq (vice-captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shahzad, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Umer Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Shoaib Akhtar, Tanveer Ahmed, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Razzaq and Abdur Rehman.