What’s the story?
Pakistan have included out-of-favour wicket-keeper batsman Kamran Akmal and Ahmed Shahzad in the preliminary squad which has assembled before this month’s tour to the West Indies.
This inclusion comes on the back of several pleas made by Kamran Akmal to the selectors which kept reminding them of his worth and availability. He backed all his talk with a superlative run in the recently concluded Pakistan Super League.
Shehzad, on the other hand, was shown the door due to disciplinary issues post the World T20 held in India last year.
Both Akmal and Shehzad will join the camp which includes 31 members. They will train under head coach Mickey Arthur in a camp in Lahore from March 11-17 before leaving for the Caribbean three days later.
The Test series could well be the last one for skipper Misbah-ul-Haq who has been given a deadline by the PCB to retire after the tour.
Pakistan play the first Twenty20 international in Barbados on March 26. That will be followed by three one-day internationals and as many Tests.
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The inclusion of the both these players come after they scored runs in the domestic season. Akmal scored 1,035 in the premier first class tournament and another 361 in the National One-day Cup in the 2016-17 season. He followed it up with a stellar show in the PSL where he emerged as the leading run-scorer by piling on 353 runs in 11 matches, which included the only century to be scored in the tournament.
Shehzad, on the other hand, had a brilliant National One Day cup where he finished as the top scorer with 653 runs in 9 innings. He was in decent touch during the PSL too where he turned up for the Quetta Gladiators.
It would be interesting to see if the selectors go ahead and pick Kamran and Shehzad in the eventual squad considering they already have reserve openers and an established wicket-keeper batsman in Sarfraz Ahmed.
However, this is a great opportunity for both players to stake a claim by training with full intensity under coach Mickey Arthur.
The inclusion of the aforementioned players is certainly a positive sign as it throws a positive light on the domestic set-up in the country. However, the onus now lies on the players to continue their good work and stick to their guns if and when they get picked in the eventual squad.