What’s the story?
Pakistan have announced their 15-member squad for the upcoming edition of the Champions Trophy. The selection panel, led by Inzamam-ul-Haq, have recalled Azhar Ali and Umar Akmal. The latter’s older brother, Kamran, was dropped from the team following an underwhelming run in the Caribbean.
Wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed leads the touring contingent which also features experienced names such as Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik. Left-arm spinner Mohammad Asghar and 33-year old Asif Zakir have missed out while the uncapped duo of Fahim Ashraf and Fakhar Zaman retain their spots in the squad.
Pakistan Squad for Champions Trophy: Sarfraz Ahmed (c) (wk), Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Fahim Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz
April 25 is the deadline for all the eight participating nations to announce their squads for the Champions Trophy. Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq had revealed that the committee was waiting until the last day as they wanted to judge the performances of a few players in the ongoing domestic one-day tournament.
The heart of the matter
Ahead of the 3-match series in West Indies, Azhar Ali and Umar Akmal had been dropped from the team following Pakistan's 1-4 defeat on Australian soil. The former was sacked from the captaincy in favour of Sarfraz Ahmed. However, the duo have managed to return to the side for the Champions Trophy. On the other hand, Kamran Akmal was dropped after making scores of 47, 21 and 0 in the Caribbean.
Also Read: ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Full Team Squads
With the likes of Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, the seam bowling attack has no shortage of left-arm options. The squad also contains two specialist spinners in Imad Wasim and 18-year old Shadab Khan. The likes of Hafeez and Malik can chip in with a few handy overs if required.
Pakistan are scheduled to open their Champions Trophy campaign against arch-rivals India on June 4 at Edgbaston. After the much awaited clash, they will take on South Africa on the 7th at the same venue and Sri Lanka on the 12th at Cardiff.
As always, Pakistan’s bowling attack could go a long way in determining their chances in the tournament. The squad contains a nice blend of youngsters and seasoned campaigners. While the decision to offer a comeback to Azhar Ali may raise quite a few eyebrows, the right-hander’s ability to handle the moving ball could have convinced the selectors of his utility.