LAHORE – The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has keeps faith in Misbahul Haq and retained him captain for Asia Cup and announced a 15-member squad here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Saturday.

The selectors dropped Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat and Adnan Akmal from the squad while Nasir Jamshed and Sarfraz Ahmed made come back in the team to appear in the tournament which will start from March 11. A small training camp will be set up from March 5 and 6 while the team will fly to Dhaka on March 7 to participate in the four-nation Asia Cup. Defending champions India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are the other teams featuring in the March 11-22 event.  Talking to this scribe on Saturday, newly-appointed chief selector Iqbal Qasim said: "We had just one day to select the squad and have tried to pick the best possible players."

Qasim replaced M Ilyas last Thursday and discussed the team combination with captain Misbahul Haq and fellow selectors on Friday.  The chief selector said opener Nasir Jamshed and wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed had been recalled for the tournament. "We feel that since Nasir has done well in domestic cricket and in the recent Bangladesh Premier League, he deserves a chance to play in the national team," Qasim added.  Fast bowler Junaid Khan was ruled out by a knee injury which he sustained during the one-dayers against England. Pakistan batsmen struggled against England but the selectors kept faith with Younus Khan, Umar Akmal and all-rounder Shahid Afridi to compete against India, Sri Lanka and the hosts in the Asia Cup.

Nasir Jamshed’s inclusion in the squad raises a question that is if Nasir can be given chance for Asia Cup due to his outstanding performance in BPL and in domestic cricket then why not top scorer of BPL Ahmed Shahzad was included in the squad who also played well in domestic season. Ahmed’s inclusion in the squad can be fruitful for the national team as he is in great form. The selectors must keep in mind all the aspects while selecting the team and the deserving players must be given chance on merit. The PCB is also expected to announce the appointment of Australian Dav Whatmore as head coach later on Saturday.  Pakistan squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (Captain), M Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Younus Khan, Umar Akmal, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Hammad Azam, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz and Aizaz Cheema.  Reserves: Ahmed Shahzad, Rahat Ali, Bilawal Bhatti, Afaq Rahim and M Khalil.