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Akhtar, Malik back in Pakistan team for Asia Cup

June 03, 2010 18:42 IST

Pakistan gave a new lease of life to controversial pacer Shoaib Akhtar by including him, along with former captain Shoaib Malik, in the 15-member squad for the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka from June 15 to 24.

Both Akhtar and Malik were named in the squad after they passed a fitness test on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old Akhtar will return to the side after a year's hiatus. The injury-riddled controversial pacer last represented Pakistan in May 2009 before being sidelined because of a knee problem.

Malik, who got married to Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza in April, made it to the squad after the appellate judge last week lifted the one-year ban imposed on him by the Pakistan Cricket Board for disciplinary issues during the disastrous tour of New Zealand and Australia.

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 Twenty20 World Cup in England last year, but he is yet to play an ODI.

Newly-appointed Pakistan Test captain Shahid Afridi said Akhtar was included in the team as the selectors felt 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 a one-year ban.

Apart from the ban, the all-rounder was fined two million rupees for creating disharmony in the team in Australia.

Afridi said the team had mixture of youth and experience and he is confident of a good show in Sri Lanka.

PCB chairman Ejaz 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.

He said the captain and manager have been given unlimited powers and they could send back any player home if they feel he breaches the team code of conduct.

Butt said the squad for the tour to England would be announced in Sri Lanka during the Asia Cup.

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

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