LAHORE: In a significant move, the selection committee has axed maverick fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar and middle-order batsman Misbah-ul-Haq from a list of 25 probables for picking the national team for the forthcoming series against New Zealand and Australia.
Pakistan are scheduled to play series against New Zealand in November-December. They will play three One-day Internationals and two Twenty20 Internationals against New Zealand in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and a three-Test series against the same team in New Zealand before going to Australia for a testing three-Test contest in December-January followed by a five-match ODI series and a lone Twenty20 International.
Well-informed sources told Dawn that the probables’ list was finalised as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) wanted to start visa process for New Zealand as soon as possible, a procedure that takes a bit more than normal time. Passports of all the 25 probables would be collected to get visas of Dubai and Abu Dhabi first and later those for New Zealand.
While the players will be issued visa for Australia in Lahore, they will get the same for New Zealand in Singapore, sources said.
But as Shoaib and Misbah were not selected in the preliminary list, it shows they may not be selected for any of the abovementioned series.
However, sources said it all depends on how these players would perform in the forthcoming Quaid-i-Azam Trophy, starting from Oct 10. The visa for a couple of players could be collected on an urgent basis. Currently, though both Shoaib and Misbah are not the selectors’ first choice, no one could rule them out, sources said.
While Shoaib, 34, due to his chronic fitness and disciplinary problems has been away from the national team for the last several months, 35-year-old Misbah’s future does not seem very bright too owing to his poor showings lately, specifically on the last tour to Sri Lanka.
The selectors, sources added, had warned all the three senior middle-order batsmen — Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik and Misbah — to perform in the ICC Champions Trophy, otherwise, they would find no place in the team.
It is interesting to note here that Yousuf’s name was also not in the initial list of probables, but was added later when he, partnering with century maker Malik, played a match-winning knock of 87 against India in a crucial Champions Trophy game in Centurion last Saturday.
DAWN.COM | Cricket | Selectors drop Misbah, Akhtar for New Zealand series