Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Pakistan have recalled batsman Umar Akmal for the upcoming ODI series against Australia in the United Arab Emirates later this month.
Akmal has been in excellent form in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL), where he has been representing the Quetta Gladiators, as he is currently the sixth-highest scorer with 228 runs in nine matches, which includes two half-centuries, at an average of 38.
In addition to Akmal, left-arm seamer Junaid Khan is also back after featuring in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and in the PSL.
In the BPL, Junaid played for the Khulna Titans and claimed 11 wickets in seven games at an average of 19.81.
As for the PSL, where he is playing for the Multan Sultans, the 29-year-old has picked up eight wickets in six games at an average of 24.
Meanwhile, pace bowler Mohammad Abbas, who has taken 66 wickets in 14 Tests for Pakistan, is set to make his ODI debut during the series.
However, Abbas is not the only uncapped player in the squad as Saad Ali and Mohammad Hasnain have both been drafted in as well.
Hasnain has been one of the most talked about bowlers in the PSL as he has shown flashes of brilliance.
The 18-year-old, who has been playing for the Quetta Gladiators, has snapped up five wickets in four matches at an average of 23.
The influx of recalled and uncapped players comes as Pakistan have decided to rest captain Sarfraz Ahmed, Babar Azam, Shaheen Afridi, Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali.
With Sarfraz being rested for the series, Shoaib Malik will captain the side.
“I am pleased we have been able to develop a strong bench-strength that has helped us make eight changes from the previous series,” chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “With a stronger bench we can have a stronger Pakistan team. This is a good sign for Pakistan cricket as we now have a big pool of players who have the capability, talent and potential, and are raring to step up and seize the opportunity when thrown at the deep end.
“The changes have been made taking into consideration the player workload in the build up to the World Cup, which starts 30 May. Apart from five ODIs against Australia, we have three warm-up games followed by five ODIs against England, and then two World Cup warm-up matches followed by, at least, nine games. This is too much cricket in a short period of time. Had there been no pre-World Cup matches in England, then we would not have made such changes.
“While Haris Sohail, Junaid Khan, Umar Akmal and Yasir Shah are returning to ODI cricket, Abid Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain and Saad Ali have been rewarded for stellar performances in domestic cricket. The series against the world champions will not be an easy one and these players will be tested to their limits. This will provide these players a great opportunity to display their skills and temperament, strengthening their claims for a World Cup call-up as there are a few places up for grabs.
“Yasir has been great in Test cricket and we are keeping open the possibility of having two wristspinners at the World Cup. We hope we can help him transfer his Test-match form to limited-overs cricket too.”
When asked about the decision to rest Sarfraz, Inzamam said: “Sarfraz is our captain and if anyone scores runs in his absence that doesn’t mean that he should be worried about his place. Sarfraz did well as captain, and he won games with the bat for Pakistan. He is our captain and he can’t be compared with any other player.”
The five-match ODI series between Pakistan and Australia will begin on March 22 in Sharjah.
Pakistan’s ODI Squad: Shoaib Malik (c), Abid Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Sohail, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Saad Ali, Shan Masood, Umar Akmal, Usman Shinwari, Yasir Shah