While replying to a question about the ouster of Captain Wasim Akram, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) secretary Waqar Ahmad said that the great all-rounder had informed the physiotherapist Dr Dan Kiesl before going to Britain to get his functional shoulder examined ``that he was not fit''.
One fails to understand logic behind the omission of a brilliant all-rounder like Wasim Akram, ideally suited to competition of one-day internationals, on the ground that he spoke to the physiotherapist about his ``unfitness''. If the player had officially informed the PCB or its national selection committee, which met to finalise the team, only then it would have been justified in dropping him. Besides the chief selector Salim Altaf, selectors Zaheer Abbas and Shafique Ahmad ``Papa'' also attended the meeting.
A pleasant surprise is induction of two youngsters Younis Yohanna and Fazle Akbar, who have been performing very well during the on-going cricket season.
Pitches of Bangladesh suit spin-bowling and it looks reasonable to pack the team with spinners like Mushtaq Ahmad, Shahid Afridi, Manzoor Akhtar, Saqlain Mushtaq and Muhammad Husain. Incidentally, the last-named left-arm Test spinner was facing disciplinary action for visiting Bangladesh without seeking permission from the PCB. No one is sure what action has been taken against Muhammad Husain and how he has been considered by the selectors? Shahid Afridi had been fined Rs 25,000 by the PCB on a ``similar charge''. A general impression was that he would be picked for the Pakistani team which is to leave for South Africa to take part in the Junior World Cup Cricket Tournament. Why has he been included in the senior team defies reason.
Omission of Waqar Younis also is understandable. No doubt, the pitches in Bangladesh do not suit speed-merchants but Waqar is too experienced a bowler to be ignored.
Moin Khan is a reliable wicketkeeper and daring batsman who has pulled the Pakistan team out of trouble on many an occasion. To drop such a consistent batsman also defies explanation. When this reporter pointed out the injustice to Waqar Ahmad, who announced the team after seeking its endorsement from the PCB Council, he said:
``Of course, Moin Khan is reported to be fully fit. But the selectors decided to omit him and preferred Rashid Latif over him, who has also been elevated to the position of the skipper!'' The team will leave Lahore by PK 317 flight from Lahore toKarachi on Jan 8. The same day, the team will leave by PK 266 flight from Karachi at 8 am and reach Dhaka at 12:10 pm (Bangladesh Standard Time).
The side has three openers in Saeed Anwar, Aamir Sohail and Shahid Afridi. The last-named will also strengthen the spin-bowling as he is good right-arm leg-spinner.
The spin department will be manned by the excellent right-arm leg-spinners Mushtaq Ahmad, Manzoor Akhtar, off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq and leftarm spinner Muhammad Husain.
The pace department has been entrusted to Aaqib Javed, young Fazle Akbar and Azhar Mahmood. The last-named is also a promising middle-order batsman.
Like the spin department, the Pakistani middle-order batting also looks strong. It has the experienced Inzamam-ul-Haq, Ejaz Ahmad Senior, Rashid Latif, Azhar Mahmood and talented Yousaf Yohanna.
The team is: Captain Rashid Latif, vice-captain Saeed Anwar, Aamir Sohail, Inzimam-ul-Haq, Manzoor Akhtar, Ejaz Ahmad Senior, Yousaf Yohanna, Azhar Mahmood, Saqlain Mushtaq, Aaqib Javed, Mushtaq Ahmad, Fazle Akbar, Shahid Afridi, Muhammad Husain. Manager: Yar Muhammad Solangi; Coach: Haroon Rashid; Physiotherapist: Dr Dan Kiesel.