Umar Gul, Abdur Rehman, Wahab Riaz, and Aqib Javed look on during a practice session in Sri Lanka—AP/File

KARACHI: Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal was a surprised omission on Sunday as the national selectors unveiled a 15-man squad for the forthcoming Test series against Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates.

Umar, the youngest among the three Akmal brothers who had represented Pakistan in international cricket, has been axed for the first time from the Test squad as the selectors retained former national skipper Shoaib Malik and recalled Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz and Abdul Rehman after resting them for the recent tour of Zimbabwe.

Mohsin Khan, the chief selector, held a rearranged media briefing during the innings break of the T20 Cup final, explained that Umar’s recent unimpressive performance at the highest level of the game was reason of him relegated to the seven-man team for the annual Hong Kong Sixes that was also named with hard-hitting all-rounder Abdul Razzaq as captain.

The 21-year-old Umar had made just two half centuries in previous 23 Test innings and his batting average, which stands at 35.82, had been in decline since making 129 on Test debut against New Zealand in November 2009.

Mohsin said: “Umar Akmal no doubt is one of the most talented batsmen in the world but his recent track record is not impressive enough for us to attach him with the Test squad.

“He is a good player and I’m sure he will be back with a bang once he starts realising that it is imperative for any batsman to be a consistent performer.”

The selection committee, which also includes Mohammad Ilyas and Azhar Khan as members, has decided to stick with left-arm paceman Junaid Khan for the Sri Lanka Tests, while preferring Aizaz Cheema over the fellow 32-year-old seamer Tanvir Ahmed.

Aizaz claimed eight wickets on his Test debut against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo last month, but the Kuwait City-born Tanvir, who bagged 6-120 in his first Test against South Africa at Abu Dhabi last year, has not played since the Test against the West Indies at Basseterre in May this year.

Rehman, the slow left-armer, as expected replaced leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who also toured Zimbabwe recently.

Among others missing out selection are Sohail Tanvir, Rameez Raja and Sohail Khan, who were also in the side that went to Zimbabwe.

However, both Sohail Tanvir and Rameez, along with Yasir, found places in the Hong Kong-bound team.

Imran Farhat kept his spot as the third opener behind Taufiq Umar and Mohammad Hafeez, who is expected to be fit for the Sri Lanka series after undergoing a minor surgery several days ago to remove a cyst on his chest which forced him to skip the T20 Cup.

The first Test against Sri Lanka begins at Abu Dhabi from Oct 18 with the remaining matches scheduled for Dubai (Oct 26-30) and Sharjah (Nov 3-7).

The teams will play five One-day Internationals and a one-off Twenty20 International.

Squad for Sri Lanka Tests: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Taufiq Umar, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Adnan Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Asad Shafiq, Imran Farhat, Aizaz Cheema, Junaid Khan.

Standbys: Tanvir Ahmed, Mohammad Talha, Sarfraz Ahmed, Yasir Shah.

Squad for Hong Kong Sixes: Abdul Razzaq (captain), Umar Akmal, Sohail Tanvir, Rameez Raja, Hammad Azam, Yasir Shah, Sharjeel Khan.

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