Karachi: With top pacer Wahab Riaz ruled out of the first three one-day internationals against Sri Lanka due to a hairline fracture in his bowling hand, a fit-again Muhammad Irfan returned to the Pakistan cricket squad announced yesterday for the series.
Chief selector Haroon Rasheed, while announcing a 16-member squad for the five-match series beginning from July 11, said that Wahab and batsmen Haris Sohail and Sohaib Maqsood were ruled out due to injuries. "The rehab process of Wahab is being monitored and our medical panel is expected to rescan his injured left hand around the middle of this month to find out the recovery process," he said.
"It is hoped he recovers well in time to be available for the last two one-dayers and if he is declared fit by the medical panel the selection committee might consider sending him to Sri Lanka depending on the situation of the series and after consulting with the team management," the former Test batsman said.
Irfan returns to action after nearly three and half months out of the game after he suffered a stress fracture of the pelvis before the quarter finals of the World Cup earlier this year. The selectors showed faith in Irfan after he appeared in a National T20 event in Faisalabad last month and bowled his team to the title.
The selectors also picked uncapped all-rounder Bilal Asif in the squad while keeping faith with the experienced Shoaib Malik but there was no place for the hard hitting Umar Akmal. The selectors have also retained Muhammad Hafeez in the squad although his bowling action was declared illegal for a second time since last November and he is due to appear for a bowling assessment test in Chennai on July 6.
If he fails to clear the bowling test Hafeez will be restricted to just batting in the one-day series. Haroon said Bilal Asif from Sialkot who recently scored a hundred in the super eights national T20 event in Faisalabad and also bowls off-spin like Hafeez was picked because he has shown he is a powerful hitter of the ball.
"He is a powerful hitter in the lower order and also a handy off-spinner and could fill in the gap in case Hafeez is not cleared after his retesting in Chennai," the chief selector added. Haroon admitted that Pakistan had a tough series in Sri Lanka as it needed to win to remain in contention for a spot in the 2017 Champions Trophy.
The top eight teams in the ICC ODI rankings on September 31 this year will qualify for the prestigious tournament and Pakistan is presently ranked 9th after losing the ODI series recently in Bangladesh. "Team Pakistan has a packed schedule from here onwards and the selectors feel that new faces have to be inducted to assess their credentials at international level," Haroon stated.
The Pakistan ODI squad also includes their most successful spinner in the ongoing test series in Sri Lanka, leg-spinner Yasir Shah.
Pakistan squad: Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali (Capt), Muhammad Hafeez, Mukhtar Ahmed Asad Shafiq, Shoaib Malik, Muhammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Yasir Shah, Bilal Asif, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Muhammad Irfan, Ehsan Adil and Rahat Ali.