The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has reportedly decided to extend the selection pool of players and shift focus towards youngsters while picking a squad for the upcoming tours of West Indies and Zimbabwe.
Following Pakistan’s early exit from the ICC Champions Trophy, the new interim PCB chairman Najam Sethi, following the suspension of Zaka Ashraf, has ordered selection strictly on merit to produce immediate results.
According to a report published in a local newspaper, the selectors have been given a free hand to replace the older players with youngsters, adding that the panel, led by chief selector Iqbal Qasim, formed an extensive pool to be tested and may think beyond the likes of Imran Farhat, Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal, who fared poorly in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013.
Stating that injured cricketers Haris Sohail (ankle) and Raza Hasan (spine) are back in contention, along with Umar Akmal and Ahmad Shahzad, the report said that Akmal may be selected as the wicketkeeper in the squad, adding that Mohammad Irfan and Nasir Jamshed were also asked to undertake fitness tests.
The report further said that top-order batsmen Sohaib Maqsood, Sharjeel Khan, left-arm spinners Zulfiqar Babar and Abdur Rehman, and leg-spinner Usman Qadir have also featured in a three-hour fitness test.
Pakistan suffered three straight defeats in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 with their batting being their major woe, and the report said that only captain Misbah-ul Haq hit two half-centuries, while the other senior batsmen Mohammad Hafeez, Farhat, Malik and Kamran performed poorly.