Pakistan have recalled Umar Akmal to their T20 squad to face world champions West Indies in three matches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi from September 23.
Akmal last played international cricket at the World T20 in March and was left out of the training camp in May, ahead of the tour of England, on disciplinary grounds. He was one of two players that former coach Waqar Younis felt should go back to domestic cricket and re-earn his place in the Pakistan side. In this season’s National T20 Cup, Akmal hit a career-best unbeaten 115 that also included him hitting experienced medium-pacer Yasir Arafat for 34 runs in one over.
It is learnt that Akmal was cleared for Pakistan duty after he had told Shaharyar Khan, the PCB chairman, at a one-on-one meeting last month that there would not be any further issues with regard to his conduct.
“We always thought that Umar deserved a place in the T20 squad and he indeed is in very good form,” Tauseef Ahmed, a member of Pakistan’s selection committee. “We really don’t need to go back into past [and think about] why he was dropped. We got the required clearance from PCB before picking him. He is a good batsman and there is always a place for him in the squad.”
Fast bowler Mohammad Irfan had picked up hamstring and calf injuries on the tour of England in the only match he played and has been left out. Mohammad Hafeez was also out of consideration due to injury. Amad Butt, the 21-year old uncapped seamer, was the only player dropped from the squad that played England.
Left-arm seamer Rumman Raees, who was named to play the World T20 but was later injured, and batting allrounder Saad Nasim, who has not played for Pakistan in over a year, have found a place in the 15-member squad.
Nasim was picked for tactical reasons. “We want to take a chance with a legspinner against West Indies,” Ahmed said. “And observing him in the national circuit, I think he can give us some variety as he is also a solid batsman.”
Raees has been earmarked as a future prospect. “Rumman on other hand is booming fast bowler and we want to keep him on line with the national squad,” Ahmed said. “He had been outstanding at the domestic level and we want him to be in contention.”
Pakistan’s new T20 captain Sarfraz Ahmed had led them to one of their most emphatic victories in the format, against England on Wednesday, to round off the tour.
Pakistan squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt), Khalid Latif, Sharjeel Khan, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Mohammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Sohail Tanvir, Rumman Raees, Umar Akmal, Saad Nasim