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WT20: Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Gul axed, Mohd Amir included in Pak squad

Karachi: Continuing his reintegration in international cricket, tainted fast bowler Mohammad Amir was yesterday selected in Pakistan's squad for the upcoming Asia Cup and the Twenty20 World Cup even as seasoned opener Ahmed Shehzad and veteran bowler Umar Gul were shown the door.

Amir, who served a five-year ban and jail time for his involvement in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal, returned to the international arena in the recent away series against New Zealand. The 23-year-old picked up five wickets in the short limited-overs series, which comprised two ODIs and three T20s.

The selectors have also inducted uncapped left-arm pacer Rumman Raees and rookie all-rounder Muhammad Nawaz, besides recalling Test opener Khurrum Manzoor, who has never played in a T20 international for Pakistan.

Among the ignored were batsmen Sohaib Maqsood and Muhammad Rizwan. The exclusion of Shehzad, Maqsood and Rizwan was expected as they had been struggling in recent matches. The sources, in fact, said the selectors had delayed the announcement of the squad for three days as they were uncertain about dropping Shehzad and were also considering wicketkeeper batsman Kamran Akmal.

"There were also some issues with the fitness of tall left arm pacer Muhammad Irfan also," a source said. Chief selector Haroon Rasheed, in a statement, said that
while picking the squad, the team management and skipper Shahid Afridi were consulted.

"The T20 squad has been selected keeping in mind the conditions during Asia Cup and World T20 and the recent performances of some players in domestic and A team tours. The team is a fine blend of experience and youth and the selectors believe the team will do well in both tournaments," Rasheed said.

Nawaz, Raees and Manzoor have all impressed in the domestic tournament and on recent Pakistan A team tours. Nawaz, a left-arm spinner and left-handed batsman, has already snapped up two man of the match awards in the ongoing Pakistan Super League in Dubai.

Interestingly Nawaz, Raees, Manzoor and batsman Babar Azam, who has scored five half centuries in nine ODIs, and middle-order batsman Ifthikar Ahmed have not played in a T20 international for the national team.

Pakistan's former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar said he was upset at the ouster of Umar Gul but admitted that the pacer had been struggling with fitness issues for a while now.

"I am sad for him but he has not been his old self. But I am happy that Nawaz has finally got recognition for his consistent performances," Akhtar said. Pakistan reached the final of the World T20 in its inaugural edition in 2007 and won it two years later in England. However, since then, the team has been unimpressive
failing to reach the semi-finals of the last edition held in 2014 in Bangladesh.

Pakistan squad: Shahid Afridi (Capt), Khurrum Manzoor, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Babar Azam, Ifthikar Ahmed, Emad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Muhammad Nawaz, Rumman Raees.

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