Karachi: Veteran batsman Younis Khan was today dropped from Pakistan's ODI squad for next month's limited overs series against Australia, even as chief selector Moin Khan unveiled an ambitious plan to induct and rely on youth in the national ODI and T20 teams.
Moin, who is also the manager of the national team, told a news conference in Lahore that Younis had been left out of the side because the selectors wanted to move on and prepare for next year's ODI World Cup. "Younis has served Pakistan cricket a lot but time has come to also give more exposure and responsibility to the younger players if we want to get them ready for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand," Moin said.
Younis, 36, whose Test batting performances (51 average in 91 games) are far better than his exploits in ODIs (31 average in 254 matches) told reporters in Karachi he had no intention to retire and was still targeting the World Cup. "The selectors have a right to take their decision but I am not giving up and will try to perform well in limited over games and make a comeback," Younis said.
The exclusion of Younis came as a bit of a shock because he had only been recalled for the One-day series against Sri Lanka last month after being ignored for this format since March 2013. In Sri Lanka he played in just the first ODI before returning home due to the death of his nephew. Moin said the doors were not closed on Younis forever.
"We are relaying now on our younger players but if things don't work out and there is a need to make changes, Younis is such an experienced batsman so he can still be recalled for the World Cup," he said. The selectors, after long deliberations, also dropped left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar from the T20 and ODI squads while once again ignoring experienced pacer Umar Gul.
Moin said Gul still needed to improve his match fitness to be considered for selection. The selectors included one uncapped player, allrounder, Saad Naseem in the T20 squad while recalling a number of discarded youngsters for both formats. Those recalled included left-handed batsman Umar Amin, left-arm spinner Reza Hasan, pace bowler Bilawal Bhatti and dashing opener Ovais Zia - has been picked in the T20 squad after last playing against England in early 2012.
Reza, 22, played in seven T20 matches in 2012 including the World T20 before a back injury derailed his career. Amin, 24, on the other hand has played four Tests, 14 ODIs and nine T20 games and his last appearance for Pakistan was in December 2013 in a T20 match. Moin said that he has lots of faith in the young players and felt they needed exposure.
"We need to start thinking about the future now because there is little time before the World Cup so we had to make some tough decisions." Asked about those players being included in both squads who were penalised for not meeting fitness standards set by the Pakistan cricket Board, Moin said the players had been told to work hard on their fitness.
"I wouldn't say they failed their fitness tests, they didn't meet the required targets we had set for individual players," he added. Pakistan play a lone T20 game and three ODIs against Australia followed by two Test matches next month in the UAE.
Pakistan ODI squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (Capt), Muhammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Umar Amin, Sohaib Maqsood, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Reza Hasan, Muhammad Irfan, Anwar Ali, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan.
T20 squad: Shahid Afridi (Capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Muhammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Umar Amin, Sohaib Maqsood, Owais Zia, Saad Nasim, Reza Hasan, Muhammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Bilawal Bhatti, Anwar Ali, Sohail Tanvir.