Pakistan drop Afridi, Akmal for Champions Trophy

Lahore, April 30 (IANS) The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has left out all-rounder Shahid Afridi and batsman Umar Akmal from the 15-member squad for the ICC Champions Trophy to be held in England from June 6 to 23.

PCB chief selector Iqbal Qasim announced the team here Monday night after a six-hour meeting with the board officials, Xinhua reports.

Right-hand batsman Misbah-ul-Haq has been retained as the skipper of the team which is a blend of youth and experienced cricketers.

The announcement came with a surprise package when Afridi was dropped from the squad owing to his poor performance in the One-day Internationals (ODI) last year.

Afridi could score only 161 runs at an average of 17.88 and take just four wickets at a striking rate of 113.75 runs in the his 12 ODI matches.

The selectors also left out middle-order batsman Umar Akmal, who could not be picked for the playing XI in the last ODI series against South Africa despite being selected in the squad.

Emerging fast bowler Asad Ali was also given a chance to be part of the national team for the first time.

Pakistan are placed in Group B of the Champions Trophy alongside the West Indies, South Africa and arch-rivals India.

The tickets for the thrilling match between Pakistan and India June 16 were sold out under record 30 minutes earlier this month, according to tournament officials.

The team comprises Misbah-ul Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Imran Farhat, Asad Shafiq, Abdul Rehman, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wicket-keeper), Umar Amin, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Asad Ali, Ehsan Adil and Mohammad Irfan.

Pakistan will start their tour to England May 17 when they will play two One-day International matches each against Scotland and Ireland before participating in the eight-nation Champions Trophy.

Pakistan Monday also appointed Australian coach Trent Woodhill to help the team's batsmen solve their batting problems.

The 42-year-old batting and fielding expert who has served as assistant coach of the New Zealand team will accompany the Pakistani side for three weeks.

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