Australia select promising youngsters Smith, Birt for T20 against Pakistan

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Melbourne, Feb 1(ANI): Australian selectors have named New South Wales all-rounder Steven Smith and Tasmanian batsman Travis Birt in their 13-man squad for the Twenty20 game against Pakistan at the MCG.

The selectors rewarded Smith for some eye-catching performances in the shortest version for NSW this season. He was earlier included in the Australian Test squad, but did not get the opportunity to play any game.

While, Birt, a big hitter and a promising young player, boasts a strike-rate of almost 130 in domestic Twenty20 games and has been in good limited-over form.

Cricket Australia's chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said the squad had been selected with one eye on this year's Twenty20 world championships, to be held in the Caribbean starting late April.

"The national selection panel has picked this squad with a view to continuing our preparation of the team for this key tournament whilst looking at several new players ahead of the World Cup," The Daily Telegraph quoted Hilditch, as saying.

"In selecting this squad, the panel has taken into account the performances of players in international Twenty20 matches, the [domestic] Twenty20 [competition] and also the correct balance of the side to be able to implement our match plans and tactics for Twenty20 cricket going into the World Cup," he added.

Skipper Michael Clarke has also been named despite missing Sunday's one-day win over Pakistan due to a stiff back.

Fast bowler Ryan Harris has been rewarded for his performance in the ODI series against Pakistan, but batsman Mike Hussey was overlooked.

Australian squad: Michael Clarke (c), Cameron White, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, David Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Dirk Nannes, Steven Smith and Travis Birt. (ANI)

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