Younis Khan’s limited-overs career hung in the balance after Pakistan’s selectors left him out of a 30-member probables squad for the International Cricket Council Champions Trophy to be played in June. Pakistan were the first team to announce their long-list, and it was significant that they omitted a player who has been a big part of their major teams in the recent past.
The ICC’s rules, however, allow for countries to choose a player from outside the initial probables, leaving the door open for Younis to return should the PCB have a change of heart.
Younis, who captained Pakistan in the 2009 edition of the Champions Trophy, was the only member who was left out from the 15-man squad that lost 3-2 to South Africa in the ODI series in March.
Younis, who became only the seventh Pakistani to cross the 7000-run mark in ODIs, endured a disappointing series, scoring 116 runs in five innings at 23.20, well below his career average of 31.88.
The selectors decided to give the other batsmen a longer rope despite a poor run, where the batting struggled against a quality South African pace attack led by Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.
Pakistan lost the first Test by 211 runs, the second by four wickets and the third by an innings-and-18 runs. Between the Tests and ODIs, Pakistan managed to win a two-match Twenty20 International series 1-0 after the first match was abandoned due to rain.
While Younis continues to remain a vital member of the Test squad, his ODI performances have dipped, with the last of his six ODI centuries coming in November 2008 against West Indies.
Younis apart, a majority of the squad was largely picked on expected lines. Yasir Arafat, the allrounder, who last played an ODI in May 2009 was the surprise inclusion, while Abdul Razzaq, who hasn’t featured in an ODI since November 2011 continued to be left out.
Pakistan, who have no international assignments till their Champions Trophy opener on June 7 against West Indies at The Oval announced their squad well ahead of the April 6 cut-off. Teams will have to announce their final 15-member squad by 15 May, 2013.
Pakistan are slotted in Group B alongside India, West Indies and South Africa, while Australia, the defending champions, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England form Group A.
Pakistan’s best showing in the tournament has been a semifinal finish. While they lost to eventual champions West Indies in 2004, they lost to New Zealand in the semifinal of the 2009 edition in South Africa.
Squad: Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Ahmed Shehzad, Misbah-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Umer Amin, Sohail Tanvir, Hammad Azam, Azhar Ali, Shahid Afridi, Asad Ali, Anwar Ali, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Rahat Ali, Ehsan Adil, Imran Khan, Aizaz Cheema, Yasir Arafat, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Zulfiqar Babar, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Rizwan.