Butt, Farhat recalled for NZ series

LAHORE: Pakistan today recalled regular openers Salman Butt and Imran Farhat in their squads for next month’s limited over series and Tests against New Zealand.

Pakistan will play three one-day internationals (November 3, 6 and 9) in Abu Dhabi and two T20 internationals (November 12 and 13) in Dubai in a series which was relocated to neutral territory due to security fears at home. Pakistan will later fly to New Zealand to play three Tests, with their home series also relocated over security fears.

“We have important series against New Zealand and, after thorough work, we have announced three squads for one-dayers, T20s and Tests, in which we have relied on regular openers,” chief of selectors Iqbal Qasim said. Younus Khan will lead the squad in one-dayers and Tests after he withdrew his resignation, submitted over match-fixing allegations. The allegations were levelled over the team’s defeats against Australia and New Zealand in the Champions Trophy earlier this month. Shahid Afridi will lead the team in the two T20 matches.

Pakistan have failed to find a regular set of openers as no pair has settled at international level. Butt, dropped for the Champions Trophy, was recalled for one-dayers and Tests after scoring a century in a domestic competition. Farhat, who snapped his ties with the rebel Indian Cricket League, this month staged a comeback after two years. The 27-year-old left-hander is in all three squads.

Opener Khalid Latif also stages a comeback for the limited over series, while Imran Nazir found a place in the Twenty20 squad only. The selectors were forced to leave out Mohammad Asif after Dubai authorities confirmed the controversial paceman cannot travel to the UAE following his deportation on charges of possessing a banned drug last year.

Asif was detained at Dubai airport for 19 days while returning from India after featuring in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008. The 26-year-old was last month brought back into the squad for the Champions Trophy following the expiry of a one-year ban imposed over a failed dope test in the inaugural season of the IPL last year. He was however selected for the Tests in New Zealand.

“We were forced to leave out Asif because of some official problems, but hope that he keeps fitness and performs well in the Tests,” said Qasim. Also staging a comeback for the UAE leg is allrounder Abdul Razzaq, after he was left out of the Champions Trophy squad. Misbah-ul Haq, a regular member of the team, failed to find a place in any of the three squads.