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Malik, Sami recalled for T20 series

Malik, Sami recalled for T20 series

LAHORE: All-rounder Shoaib Malik and paceman Mohammed Sami were recalled by Pakistan to their T20 squad for the two-match series against Zimbabwe which begins at the Gaddafi Stadium from Friday.

In eight changes made to the squad from the one which lost to Bangladesh in a one-off T20 last month, batsmen Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Nauman Anwar and all-rounders Anwar Ali, Hammad Azam, Bilawal Bhatti and Imad Wasim were also named in the 15-man squad announced on Tuesday.

Amongst those who were dropped by the selection committee headed by Haroon Rasheed include off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, batsmen Saad Nasim, Sohaib Maqsood and Haris Sohail, all-rounder Sohail Tanvir and pacemen Imran Khan, Junaid Khan, Sohail Khan and Umar Gul.

The 33-year-old Malik, who last competed for Pakistan in the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh last year, returns to the side after leading Sialkot Stallions to the title in the recently-concluded Super8 T20 Cup in Faisalabad.

Middle-order batsman Umar, who was dropped after the World Cup, also got the nod after strong performances in the Faisalabad event for Lions as did teenaged opener Nauman.

Nauman was the top-scoring batsman in the Super 8 T20 Cup after scoring 270 runs at a strike-rate of 162.65 for the Stallions, including a match-winning 54-ball 97 in the final against the Lions on Monday.

The top wicket-taker of the national event, however, wasn’t considered. Osama Mir, who took 11 wickets at excellent average 9.50, was ignored while a number of other selections, however, did not take into account performances in the event.

The 34-year-old Sami, who played the last of his five T20s against Sri Lanka in June 2012, made the cut despite any significant performances in the Super 8 T20 Cup where he took just six wickets in three games.

Hammad didn’t impress in Faisalabad as well while Anwar made the squad despite missing the event on fitness grounds.

Opener Shehzad struggled to find his feet in the Super 8 T20 Cup but got the selectors’ nod — most probably on the strong recommendation of the captain of the squad Shahid Afridi.

Former Pakistan U19 captain Imad also made the squad after coming back from the Pakistan ‘A’ team tour to Sri Lanka.

Ajmal was left out of the side after failing to impress with his remodelled action during the series against Bangladesh. The off-spinner was banned by the International Cricket Council last year for an illegal bowling action before being cleared in February.

Amongst the others, Sohaib and Sohail miss out due to fitness issues while Junaid was a notable exclusion for the series.

Squad: Shahid Afridi (captain), Sarfraz Ahmed (vice-captain/ wicket-keeper), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Mukhtar Ahmed, Nauman Anwar, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Rizwan (wicket-keeper), Anwar Ali, Hammad Azam, Imad Wasim, Bilawal Bhatti, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Sami.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2015

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