LAHORE: Pakistan included paceman Shoaib Akhtar and former captain Shoaib Malik in its 15-man squad for the Asia Cup to be played in Sri Lanka later this month, selectors announced Thursday.
The 34-year-old Akhtar was found fit for the June 15-24 four-nation tournament after selectors and top Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials carried out checks on Wednesday. A medical report has also declared him fit.
Akhtar, whose 13-year career has been riddled with injuries and controversies, has not played for Pakistan since May last year because of knee problems but showed good form in a recent domestic one-day tournament.
The 28-year-old Malik had a one-year ban lifted last week, clearing his return to international cricket. He also passed a fitness test.
“Both Akhtar and Malik passed fitness tests and hence were included in the squad and it’s a balanced squad,” PCB chairman Ijaz Butt told reporters.
Malik was banned for one year and fined two million rupees (24,000 dollars) in March after he was found breaching the players’ code of conduct during Pakistan’s tour of the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Australia. His fine was halved last week.
All-rounder Shahid Afridi was named captain for the Asia Cup and the following tour of England last week.
Pakistan, who have won the Asia Cup title only once, will face hosts and defending champions Sri Lanka on June 15 before taking on arch-rivals India on June 19 and Bangladesh on June 21.
The final of the 10th Asia Cup will be held on June 24.
Pakistan is already missing key fast bowler Umar Gul, who has been sidelined with a shoulder injury for the last two months. Gul missed the World Twenty20 in the West Indies last month.
The 21-year-old left-handed batsman Umar Amin is also uncapped, while 20-year-old Shahzaib Hasan represented Pakistan in the second World Twenty20 in England last year and has yet to play a 50-over one-day match.
The 24-year-old Asad Shafiq, also uncapped, came after a strong domestic season.
Former captain Younus Khan, who was banned for an indefinite period over infighting in the team but named in the initial squad, was left out as his appeal is still pending.
Squad: Shahid Afridi (capt), Salman Butt (vice capt), Imran Farhat, Shahzaib Hasan, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Shoaib Malik, Umar Amin, Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir, Shoaib Akhtar, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman.