COLOMBO: Lanky paceman Mohammad Irfan was recalled Friday to the 16-man Pakistan squad for the five-match one-day series against Sri Lanka starting later this month.
The 33-year-old, the tallest international cricketer ever at seven feet one inch (2.16 metres), injured his hip at the World Cup in March, forcing him to missPakistan’s crucial quarter-final against eventual champions and co-hosts Australia.
But Irfan’s return still does not guarantee a full-strength Pakistan pace attack, as partner Wahab Riaz missed out with a bowling hand injury sustained during the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo last week.
Also ruled out of the series was spinning allrounder Haris Sohail, who injured his knee on the tour of Sri Lanka, missing all three Tests.
After completing treatment Irfan is champing at the bit, chief selector Haroon Rasheed said.
“Irfan has completed a rehab and is raring to go,” said Rasheed. “Unfortunately Riaz, Sohail and Sohaib Maqsood were not available for selection due to injuries.”
Riaz will continue to be monitored by a medical panel to see if he could be available for the last two matches, said Rasheed.
Newcomers Mukhtar Ahmed and Bilal Asif were included in the one-day team for the first time.
“Mukhtar has shown tremendous improvement while Asif has also shown that he is a powerful hitter and also a handy off-spinner,’ said Rasheed.
Mukhtar, 22, has played three Twenty20 internationals this year while Asif, 29, scored a hundred in the final of a non-first class domestic tournament in April.
Missing from the squad are batsman Umar Akmal and paceman Junaid Khan. Junaid played the first two Tests of the ongoing series in Sri Lanka but made little impact.
Spinning allrounder Mohammad Hafeez was selected despite his action having been reported for a second time last week. He will undergo a test on his action on July 6 but can still bowl until the result of his test is announced.
But Saeed Ajmal, struggling with his remodelled action since April this year, was again left out.
Pakistan need to win the Sri Lanka series to have any chance of qualifying for the 2017 Champions Trophy in England.
Pakistan are currently ninth in the one-day rankings and need to move up a place in order to play the Champions Trophy.
The five-match series starts in Dambulla on July 11. The remaining matches will be held in Pallekele (July 15), Colombo (July 19 and 22) and Hambantota (July 26)
Pakistan will also play two Twenty20 matches against Sri Lanka for which a squad will be announced later.
Squad: Azhar Ali (captain), Mukhtar Ahmed, Ahmed Shezad, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed, Yasir Shah, Bilal Asif, Immad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Ehsan Adil, Rahat Ali.