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Pakistan selects squad for Sri Lankan encounter
by AFP

DateLine: 7th May 2007

Pakistan Monday named two uncapped players in a 16-man squad for their three-match series against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi later this month, aiming for a fresh start after a disastrous World Cup campaign.

Pakistan were eliminated in the first round of the mega event, held in the Caribbean in March-April, after losing to the West Indies and Ireland.

Pakistan's campaign was also badly hit after their English coach Bob Woolmer died in Jamaica on March 18, a day after their defeat against Ireland. His death was treated as a murder and is still being investigated.

Pakistan has yet to decide on a replacement for Woolmer, having advertised the post last month. The Pakistan Cricket Board says it will likely appoint a temporary coach for the team later this week.

In a further upheaval for the side, team captain Inzamam-ul-Haq quit one-day cricket and his potential replacement, Younis Khan, turned down an offer to lead the side, citing personal reasons.

That forced Pakistan's cricket authorities to appoint young Shoaib Malik as skipper for one year, beginning with the Abu Dhabi series with matches scheduled for May 18, 20 and 22.

Left-handed spin bowler and allrounder Fawad Alam, 21, a notable performer in the domestic season, gets his first chance in this side while left-arm paceman Najaf Shah, 22, also breaks into the national team after being constantly ignored.

Spearhead Mohammad Asif has returned to the squad after missing the World Cup because of an elbow injury.

Asif, along with express paceman Shoaib Akhtar, was involved in a doping scandal last year.

Akhtar was not considered for selection after he failed to prove his fitness from a knee injury.

Chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed told AFP Pakistan would now make a fresh start after the World Cup "and hope that this team settles before the hectic new season in which we play the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa, host South Africa, tour India and then host Australia."

Younis, leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and allrounder Azhar Mahmood were unavailable for selection due to commitments in English county cricket after being part of Pakistan's squad for the World Cup.

Ahmed said the new selection committee would infuse new blood gradually.

"The new selection committee is in the power play stages and will take time to make this team a stronger outfit," said Ahmed, who replaced Wasim Bari as chief selector after the World Cup last month.

Opener Salman Butt, discarded last year, will stage a comeback while allrounder Abdul Razzaq has recovered from the knee injury which forced him to miss the World Cup.

A new vice captain will also be announced later, the Pakistan Cricket Board said.

Squad: Shoaib Malik (captain), Salman Butt, Imran Nazir, Yasir Hameed, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Yousuf, Fawad Alam, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Iftikhar Anjum, Najaf Shah.

(Article: Copyright © 2007 AFP) spacer

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