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Malik ban lifted, Akhtar returns
- Rookies Umar Amin & Asad Shafiq make the cut in the 15-member squad for Asia Cup

Lahore: Pakistan on Thursday gave a new lease of life to controversial pacer Shoaib Akhtar and banned former captain Shoaib Malik by naming them in the 15-member squad for the Asia Cup to be held in Sri Lanka from June 15-24.

The national selectors included both Akhtar and Malik in the Asia Cup squad after they passed a fitness test on Wednesday.

While the 34-year-old Akhtar returned to the squad after a hiatus of a year because of a knee problem, Malik made it to the squad after the appellate judge last week lifted the one-year ban imposed on him by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

The former captain was banned for disciplinary issues during the disastrous tour of New Zealand and Australia.

Akhtar last represented Pakistan in May last year and has been sidelined since then.

The selectors also included two uncapped players — left-handed batsman Umar Amin and 24-year-old Asad Shafiq — and young Shahzaib Hasan in the team.

Shahzaib, 20, was part of the Pakistan squad that won the World Twenty20 in England last year, but he is yet to play an ODI.shoaib

Skipper Shahid Afridi said Akhtar was included in the team as the selectors felt that the 34-year-old pacer has still some years of cricket left in him.

“He (Akhtar) has been out of the national team for a while now due to fitness problems. But he has worked hard and we want to exploit the cricket left in him,” Afridi said.

Afridi also said that Malik was included in the squad because of his experience and quality. Malik returned to the side after serving three months of his one-year ban.

Apart from the ban, the all-rounder was fined Rs 2 million for creating disharmony in the team in Australia. Afridi said the team had mixture of youth and experience and he was confident of a good show in Sri Lanka.

PCB chairman Ijaz Butt, meanwhile, said the board had made it clear to the players that it would not tolerate any further indiscipline in the team.

“The board is now following a zero tolerance policy on discipline in team,” Butt said.

The PCB on Thursday however had some good news for the players. The board decided to withdraw the Rs 3 million fine it had slapped on captain Afridi for the ball-biting episode in Perth while the Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar, got their Rs 3 million penalties reduced to Rs 1.5 million.

THE SQUAD

Shahid Afridi (capt), Salman Butt, Imran Farhat, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Shahzaib Hasan, Asad Shafiq, Umar Amin, Mohammed Asif, Mohammed Aamir, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Shoaib Akhtar, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq.

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