Pakistan retain Afridi as ODI captain; recalls stumper Akmal

Karachi, Jan 12 (PTI) Pakistan today retained flamboyantall-rounder Shahid Afridi as captain while controversialwicketkeeper Kamran Akmal was also recalled for the upcomingsix-match ODI series against New Zealand starting January 22in Wellington.

The national selection committee met in Lahore today andannounced a 16-member squad with no real surprises except thereturn of Akmal, who was recently cleared by the PCB forselection.

Akmal was one of the three cricketers reportedly asked bythe PCB to submit details of bank accounts and assets from thelast three years to the integrity committee, probing chargesof spot-fixing which led to the suspensions of Salman Butt,Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer.

Misbah-ul-Haq, who led Pakistan in the two-Test seriesagainst New Zealand, will be Afridi''s deputy. Experiencedbatsman Mohammad Yousuf, who was included in the preliminaryWorld Cup squad last week, has been left out for the series.

Former captain Shoaib Malik and Fawad Alam were alsooverlooked.

"It is a great feeling to be back in the national squadand my target is to impress the selectors with my performancesand book a place in the final World Cup squad," Akmal said.

The keeper has not been selected since the tour ofEngland which ended in September last year and was marred byspot-fixing controversy.

Akmal said it was great to be back in the national squad.

"I am looking forward to the series," he said.

The selectors and board have lifted a big burden offAfridi whose captaincy for the World Cup is also underscrutiny but gets another chance to show his credentials asplayer and captain in New Zealand.

Experienced fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul willbe supported by three other pacers Wahab Riaz, Tanvir Ahmedand Sohail Tanvir.

The one-day series in New Zealand will be Pakistan''s lastinternational outing before the World Cup in the subcontinentto be jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh fromFebruary 19 to April 2.

Squad: Shahid Afridi (Capt), Muhammad Hafeez, AhmedShehzad, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq,Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Tanvir Ahmed, UmarGul, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Abdul Rehman and Saeed Ajmal.

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