National selection committee headed by former Test paceman Salim Altaf, which includes star Test player Zaheer Abbas and Test opener Shafiq Ahmad ``Papa'', met at the Qadhafi Stadium on Thursday from 11:15 am to 2:15 pm. It included world-class paceman Waqar Younis, young Test batsman Muhammad Wasim and Test opener Salim Elahi.
The stylish stroke-player Saeed Anwar has been elevated to the position of captain by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Council members, who also gave approval of the team on telephone. Saeed Anwar was vice-captain of the Pakistan team which lost the 5-match Sahara Cup series of one-day internationals against the Indian side 1-4 at Toronto. The experienced wicketkeeper and batsman Moin Khan has been appointed his deputy.
Giving a reason for appointing a vice-captain of the host team, which is something rare, the PCB secretary Waqar Ahmad told this reporter that Saeed Anwar had problem to his hamstring and if he could not recover for the first match against India at Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad on September 28 (Sunday), then Moin Khan would lead the Pakistan side.
The Test opener Aamir Sohail, who was not selected in the Pakistan team for the trip to Canada, has again been left out of the team by the selectors for the matches against India. However, he has been appointed captain of the Combined side, replacing Muhammad Wasim. Incidentally, Muhammad Wasim has been picked for the Pakistan team. The Combined team will play the visiting South African side's first three-day match at the National Stadium, Karachi from October 1 to 3.
The experienced former Test batsman Haroon Rashid has been retained as the coach of the Pakistan team.
Return of Waqar Younis into the team will restore the necessary punch in its bowling, which had lost sting in Canada. He will be assisted by experienced paceman Aaqib Javed, young Shahid Nazir and Azhar Mahmood. The last-named is also a useful batsman.
The guileful right-arm leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmad has not recovered from knee-trouble and the only bowler of his type included in the team is young Shahid Afridi, who is also a daring opener. Off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq will lead the spin-bowling attack. The left-arm spinner Muhammad Husain will support him, if he did not have to sit out of the team again. He had failed to find a place in the team during the series in Canada.
Besides Shahid Afridi, the other openers in the team are Saeed Anwar and Salim Elahi. The last-named has been replaced in the Combined side by all-rounder Azhar Shafiq, who plays for Bahawalpur and Customs teams. Captain Saeed Anwar had hit a world record-fetching knock of 194 against the Indian team during the recent Independence Cup Cricket Tournament organised by the neighbouring country.
The middle-order batting has been strengthened by picking Ejaz Ahmad Senior, Inzimam-ul-Haq, Hasan Raza, Moin Khan, Muhammad Wasim and Azhar mahmood. However, the absence of Salim Malik would be sorely felt during the series! When asked about his exclusion from the team, secretary
Waqar Ahmad said: ``Perhaps! the selectors have decided to drop him keeping in view the future needs of the Pakistan team''.
The 14 players of the Pakistan team are: Captain Saeed Anwar, vice-captain Moin Khan, Shahid Afridi, Ejaz Ahmad Senior, Inzimam-ul-Haq, Hasan Raza, Azhar Mahmood, Saqlain Mushtaq, Waqar Younis, Aaqib Javed, Muhammad Husain, Salim Elahi, Muhammad Wasim, Shahid Nazir.