Lahore: Pakistan on Tuesday announced surprise recalls for former captain Shoaib Malik and paceman Mohammad Sami but left out struggling spinner Saeed Ajmal for the two Twenty20s internationals against Zimbabwe.
Malik, the 33-year-old all-rounder, has not figured since a poor showing against Bangladesh in the last of his 59 T20 internationals in Dhaka in 2014. But a return to form in the recently concluded 'Super8' domestic T20 cup has led to him being recalled, said chief selector Haroon Rasheed.
"In the absence of Ajmal who needs some time to adjust to his remodelled action, we needed someone who could bowl also and Malik has shown some good recent form," Rasheed told AFP.
Off-spinner Ajmal was banned by the International Cricket Council last year and has been struggling with control since his new bowling action was cleared by the ICC in February. He was left out of Pakistan's World Cup squad, and then returned unsuccessfully on the tour of Bangladesh last month.
"Ajmal is an asset and as a professional he knows he needs some time, so he will play for (Worcestershire) county in England to gain his confidence back," said Rasheed. Sami, 34, was once regarded as one of the world's fastest bowlers after he burst on to the scene in the early 2000s. But he last played for Pakistan on the tour of Sri Lanka in June 2012.
The 15-man squad also sees the return of batsman Umar Akmal who was left out of the Bangladesh tour for exhibiting a "poor attitude" during the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February and March. There are two uncapped players, 19-year-old opening batsman Noman Anwar who has been in prolific form and all-rounder and former Pakistan U19 captain Imad Wasim.
Anwar was declared top batsman in the domestic Twenty20 event after scoring 270 runs at a strike-rate of 162.65 for Sialkot Stallions, including a match-winning 54-ball 97 in the final against Lahore Lions on Sunday. "We have selected a combination of youth and experience with an eye on (next year's) World Twenty20 where we will need experience as well," said Rasheed.
Zimbabwe arrived early Tuesday to become the first Test playing team to tour Pakistan since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009, which led to the suspension of all international cricket in the country. The two Twenty20 matches will be played in Lahore on Friday and Sunday.
Shahid Afridi (captain), Sarfraz Ahmed, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Mukhtar Ahmed, Noman Anwar, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Rizwan, Anwar Ali, Hammad Azam, Imad Wasim, Bilawal Bhatti, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Sami