Akmal has not represented Pakistan in an ODI since the 2011 ICC 50-over Cricket World Cup
Veteran Pakistan batsman Younis Khan and pace bowler Umar Gul have been dropped from the ODI squad for the upcoming three match ‘home’ series in the United Arab Emirates against Australia.
Former wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal will make his Pakistan return for both the ODI and Twenty20 Internationals series, while left-arm pacer Junaid Khan, who had an excellent tour of Sri Lanka recently, has also been included in the squad.
Fast bowler Anwar Ali, who represented Pakistan in one Twenty20 International back in 2008, is the newest member of the squad, and the most inexperienced as well.
Gul, who was included in the team for the three Twenty20 Internationals, was dropped for the ODI series due to his recent slump in Sri Lanka, where he only took four wickets in five ODIs.
Khan, on the other hand, will miss out entirely after also having a dreadful run of form with the bat in the recent Sri Lanka series, where he scored just five runs in four matches.
Speaking exclusively to ESPNcricinfo, Pakistan’s chief selector Iqbal Qasim said: “For a while Gul and Younis have been struggling and they have been dropped only to give them a break, both have contributed a lot for Pakistan and we need them to be fresh ahead of the busy schedule. They desperately need a break to mange their workload.”
The selection committee did not pick pace bowler Mohammad Sami since he was too inconsistent with his bowling, and Rahat Ali, a rookie pace bowler, was also left out from the squad.
“The selectors have decided to drop Rahat Ali, who needs more grooming and he is a future prospect, while Anwar Ali has been in the pipeline for quite a long time, he has been included to get some confidence and much-needed exposure,” Qasim said.
Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik has made the team after being left out for the ODI series against Sri Lanka.
Kamran Akmal’s inclusion in the ODI squad was never in question after the former wicketkeeper was named in the Twenty20 squad that will face Australia, and also in the 15-man team that will represent Pakistan at the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 next month in Sri Lanka.
The last time Akmal played an ODI for Pakistan was during the 2011 ICC 50-over Cricket World Cup.
During the Sri Lanka series, Pakistan had three wicketkeepers, but all of them have been left out in favour of Akmal.
“Akmal is our first-choice as wicketkeeper-batsman for limited-overs cricket mainly because of his assured batting skills, so drafting him in the ODI squad could help him gain more confidence ahead of the World T20,” Qasim said.
However, even with a new look to their squad, Pakistan will be low on the number of experienced pace bowlers they have in their team, with Abdul Razzaq missing out, and Hammad Azam not making the cut as well.
“Pakistan have been relying more on spin bowling, and in view of the pitches and conditions in the UAE, the onus will be on spinners,” Qasim said.