Younis ODI journey not over yet: Haroon

Source: Published in Sports on Friday, September 4, 2015

KARACHI: Chief selector Haroon Rasheed said on Thursday that doors of ODI cricket were not closed for stalwarts like Younis Khan and Saeed Ajmal.

“Younis and Ajmal are players of high calibre and their inclusion [only] among 15 [of the ODI squad] is not justified,” Haroon said while addressing a news conference here at the Karachi Press Club (KPC).

Ex-chief selector Iqbal Qasim and former Pakistan team manager Abdul Raqeeb, KPC sports committee chairman Atiq-ur- Rehman and member Shoaib Jutt were also present on the occasion.

Chief selector says Ajmal being monitored closely Haroon said he had great respect for players like Younis and Ajmal for their grand contribution to Pakistan and the game, adding they would be selected once they were needed by the team.

“Younis is an integral part of the Test team and once he is fitted in the final eleven, he can be considered for selection in the ODI outfit,” Haroon stated.

Former captain Younis was not considered for ODIs after this year’s World Cup though the 101-Test veteran continued to excel in the five-day format after the quadrennial showpiece.

The solid right-hander in July silenced many critics that growing age (37) was a hindrance with a majestic 171 not out to help Pakistan, who were chasing a mammoth 377, win the Pallekele Test and the series.

On 37-year-old Ajmal, Haroon said without a trace of doubt the veteran off-spinner was Pakistan’s bowling great.

Ajmal, a veteran of 35 Tests and 113 ODIs, has been unable to deliver up to the expectations after remodelling his action after being reported for a suspect bowling action during the Sri Lanka series last year.

“We are closely monitoring Ajmal for his performances and he is yet to show his [previously demonstrated] class after remodelling his action,” noted Haroon.

The chief selector however admitted that due to action problems and reporting of several bowlers for suspect action, Pakistan didn’t have a top-quality off-spinner in the domestic circuit.

Commenting on the possibility of Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt returning to the game after serving their spot-fixing bans, Haroon said the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had chalked out an extensive rehabilitation programme for the trio.

“First they have to follow the PCB road map for their comeback on the domestic circuit,” he said. “Since Asif and Salman have not played any brand of [competitive] cricket during the last five years, they must first follow the PCB procedures before having any chance of a comeback,” he said.

“Once they have proved themselves and performed at the domestic circuit they may come in the reckoning for national team selection,” he said.

However, Haroon, the former Test batsman, was of the view that there was a long way to go for the duo to get selected for national duty.

Meanwhile, the chief selector said the forthcoming series comprising Tests, ODIs and T20s against England in the UAE would be an important assignment for Pakistan.

“However, as the chief selector, along with co-selectors, currently my main focus is to prepare a good pool of players for next year’s World T20 in India.”

With separate pools of cricketers for three different formats in place, Haroon said Pakistan presently had a pretty useful pool of 24 Test players, 26 ODI campaigners and around 30 Twenty20 players.

“Only a few can be picked in all three formats but we have the players who are suited to both T20s as well as ODIs,” he concluded.

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