LAHORE, July 15: Pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar was finally included in the 30-member preliminary squad named on Tuesday for the ICC Champions Trophy while Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Yousuf were excluded for different reasons.
Yousuf withdrew from the mega event due to the holy month of Ramazan during which the tournament will be held.
Though Shoaib, Asif and Yousuf were included in the first preliminary list presented to the PCB on July 10 by the selection committee, it had been rejected by the board which had also asked the selectors to meet PCB’s Chief Operating Officer Shafqat Naghmi and other officials in Lahore on July 14 to resolve the issues concerning certain players.
Though the PCB did not disclose the names of those players, apparently the name of Shoaib was on top of them.
The PCB was of the view that the bowler should have paid the fine of Rs7 million, imposed on him by the board’s appellate tribunal, to be included in the preliminary squad.
The PCB had given the deadline of July 14 to Shoaib for depositing the fine. But the bowler’s lawyer wrote a letter to the board, saying Shoaib would deposit the amount after Lahore High Court’s final decision, as the cash penalty had been challenged and the case was still pending with the court.
“We showed grace for Shoaib giving a chance to show his fitness, therefore, his name has been included in the (preliminary) list. The PCB can receive the cash penalty at any time,” said Naghmi at a press conference here on Tuesday.
Asked why the PCB did not show the same grace and opted for a confrontation-like situation with the selectors, Naghmi responded: “In the letter written to Shoaib the PCB did not impose any condition of depositing the fine if he wants to be selected.”
However, he admitted that the date of July 14 was given to him to pay the fine.
Asif was excluded from the list after the news about his positive dope test conducted in the IPL was announced on Monday, which also deferred the announcement of the preliminary squad till Tuesday.
Naghmi further said that the final squad of 15 players would be picked before Aug 11.
“Dope test of all 30 (selected) players will be conducted on Saturday and Sunday in Lahore. Any player failing the test or failing to give samples for the test shall become ineligible for selection for the Champions Trophy and will also face disciplinary proceedings under PCB’s anti-doping policy,” he asserted.
“The PCB will monitor fitness of the players and may conduct fitness tests prior to the selection of final 15 for the Champions Trophy.”
Meanwhile, Mohammad Hafeez and budding paceman Mohammad Ali were included in the initial squad in place of Yousuf and Asif.
Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq were retained as captain and vice-captain respectively.
Wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal, who was given rest for Asia Cup, has been included with young gloveman Sarfraz Ahmed. Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman also made a comeback.
About Junaid Zia’s omission, chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed said that the recent performance of Sohail Khan and that of other bowlers were more impressive.
Probables: Shoaib Malik (captain), Misbah-ul-Haq (vice-captain), Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, Khalid Latif, Khurram Manzoor, Ahmed Shahzad, Yasir Hameed, Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Bazid Khan, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Hafeez, Yasir Arafat, Mansoor Amjad, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Mohammad Ali, Rao Iftikhar, Sohail Khan, Abdur Rauf, Wahab Riaz, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Aamir, Kamran Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal.