Pakistan has recalled fast bowler Wahab Riaz and middle-order batsman Umar Akmal but dropped experienced all-rounder Shoaib Malik for next month’s three-match Test series against England to be played in the UAE.
Malik was dropped from the 16-man squad after a string of poor performances with the bat in the last three ODI series against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Malik, who has not played a Test since August last year, has managed just 35 runs in six innings since his return to Pakistan ODI team in September this year.
Apart from Malik, pacer Mohammad Khalil, who was part of the touring squad in Bangladesh, had also been left out.
Illyas said that the selectors didn’t pick Malik because of his recent poor form and wanted him to go back to domestic cricket to hone his skills.
“He (Malik) has only been dropped because of poor form in the series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and can always make a comeback,” he added.
Umar Akmal, meanwhile, returned to the Test side after being ignored for the last two series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Left-arm pacer Wahab makes his return to the national side after being ignored by the selectors since the Test series against Sri Lanka in October due to questions over his involvement in the spot-fixing scandal in England last year.
The Pakistan Cricket Board had advised its selectors not to consider Wahab after his name crept up along with wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal during the spot-fixing trial held in London three months back.
Undercover reporter, Mazhar Mehmood told the jury during the trial that he was told by bookmaker Mazhar Majeed that Wahab and Kamran were among the Pakistani players who worked for him.
PCB chief selector Mohammad Illyas said that the selection committee had sought clearance from the board for all players before considering them for the Test series.
“Only those players have been picked who were given clearance by the board,” he said.
Sources said that the PCB had allowed Wahab to be considered for selection after seeking the advice of the ICC on the issue.
Left-arm fast bowler Junaid Khan also makes his comeback into the Pakistan team after recuperating from an injury which he sustained during last month’s ODI series against Sri Lanka.
Illyas said Junaid had recovered completely from his abdominal muscle tear problem.
“The medical panel of the board has told us he is now completely fit to resume playing,” he said.
Illyas said the selectors have tried to pick a balanced pace and spin attack and that is why they have decided to give a chance to young pacer Mohammad Talha, who went to Bangladesh for the Test matches but did not play.
Talha has played just one Test against Sri Lanka at Lahore three years back.
Pakistan’s pace attack will be lead by experienced Umar Gul and Aitzaz Cheema, while Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman will form the spin department.
Pakistan will play three Tests, four ODIs and three T20 matches against England in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
England will also play two three-day warm up games before the first Test which starts in Dubai on January 17.
Squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Taufiq Umar, Imran Farhat, Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Adnan Akmal, Mohammad Talha, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Aitzaz Cheema, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman.