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Seven seniors go in Pak purge

Islamabad: In a massive clean-up exercise, Pakistan’s newly-appointed panel of selectors on Thursday dumped seven celebrated cricketers including sacked captain Waqar Younis and pace spearheads Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar and picked a new-look team for the triangular series in Sharjah next month.

Also out of the 16-member team were off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, batting mainstays Saeed Anwar and Inzamam-ul Haq, and allrounder Azhar Mahmood, chief selector Aamir Sohail told reporters in Lahore.

Shahid Afridi, however, was earlier banned from the tournament on charges of sledging against India and the umpires in their World Cup clash on March 1.

The team, which has only seven players from Pakistan’s disastrous World Cup campaign and three new faces, was selected at the behest of newly-appointed captain Rashid Latif, Sohail said.

However, Sohail emphasised that it was not the end of the road for the senior cricketers.

“We have not closed the chapter on superstars. On the basis of just one poor tournament, their past achievements and heroics cannot be forgotten,” Sohail said. “It has been a very difficult decision to leave out the maestros but we are looking for future. This is the beginning of a rebuilding phase and some of the bitter pills will have to be swallowed.

Besides Latif, new vice-captain Yousuf Youhana, Taufeeq Umer, Saleem Elahi, Younis Khan, Abdul Razzaq and Mohammad Sami were the other members of the World Cup squad to have retained their place in the side.

Mohammad Hafeez, Rana Naveedul Hasan and Umar Gul are the three uncapped players in the side while Misbah-ul Haq, Naved Latif, Faisal Iqbal, Shoaib Malik, Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Zahid have been recalled.

Explaining the exclusions, Sohail said Shoaib needed to work on his fitness while Inzamam and Saqlain needed a break from international cricket. His former opening partner Anwar, Sohail said, required to improve his fielding.

“As far as Inzi (Inzamam) is concerned, if you recall he had a lean period against Australia in 1999-2000. He was dropped but when he came back, he was charged up and piled up runs. I think he needs rest, regroups himself and recharge his batteries because I strongly feel he has at least three years of cricket left in him,” Sohail said.

“As regards Saqlain Mushtaq, he has looked out of sorts in the last six months and probably needs a break from international cricket. Likewise, Shoaib Akhtar also needs to work on his fitness,” he said. Former Test captain Javed Miandad returns as coach after the South Africa-based Richard Pybus resigned. Latif will be Pakistan’s seventh captain in the last five years. Miandad will be the 11th coach in the same period.

THE SQUAD

Rashid Latif (captain), Yousuf Youhana (vice-captain), Taufeeq Umer, Mohammad Hafeez, Saleem Elahi, Misbah-ul Haq, Younis Khan, Naved Latif, Faisal Iqbal, Abdul Razzaq, Rana Naveedul Hasan, Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Sami, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Mohammed Zahid.

SA to review plans

South Africa still hope to take part in the Sharjah meet next month but will review those plans on a daily basis because of the Iraq conflict.

United Cricket Board director of communications Bronwyn Wilkinson said in Johannesburg on Thursday: “At present we have not changed our plans to play in Sharjah but we are in daily contact with the government and it is their advice we will follow.”

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