Inzamam: 'Umar picked due to domestic form'

Pakistan's batsman Umar Akmal was selector for the upcoming West Indies series on the back of his batting form in the ongoing national Twenty20 championship, according to chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Umar Akmal leads the runs tally in the national T20 cup, with 361 runs in seven matches at an average of 90.25.   -  AP

Pakistan's chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq has confirmed that batsman Umar Akmal was > brought back to the national team due to his batting form in the ongoing national Twenty20 championship. The national selection committee, according to Inzamam, had been given the go-ahead by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to consider Umar for the upcoming series against West Indies after he sorted out his disciplinary matters with the board.

“He is back in the team because he is in good form and has shown this in the national event. I have spoken to him and he is keen to prove to everyone that he wants to become a permanent part of the Pakistan team in other formats of the game,” Inzamam said.

The former captain said that experienced all-rounders Shahid Afridi and Ahmed Shehzad were not considered because of fitness and form issues. “It is not that the door is closed on them. When we are satisfied that they meet the standards of fitness and form, they will be considered for selection,” he said.

Shehzad and Umar were both overlooked for the entire England tour on disciplinary grounds.

When asked about uncapped allrounder Ammad Butt, who was selected in the squad for the lone T20 International against England but dropped for the West Indies series without playing a match, Inzamam said that the head coach and captain felt that he needed more time in domestic cricket. “But he is a exciting new talent for the future,” Inzamam added.

Meanwhile, Umar, who has had several run-ins with the establishment and media over his off-field episodes, said he was looking to have a controversy-free career now. “I want to have a controversy-free career now because staying out for five months from the national side were very tough and hard for me. It made me realise lot of things.”

Umar said his focus was on making a comeback and he tried to perform well in whatever opportunities he got. He made it clear that he wanted to do well in the T20 series against the West Indies so that he could be considered for the 50-over format as well. “I know I can also contribute a lot in the 50-over format as I enjoy the challenge of the longer format of the game.”

The selectors were forced to reconsider Umar after he scored 115 not out off 48 balls at a strike rate of 239 for Lahore Whites, hitting Pakistani all-rounder Yasir Arafat for 34 runs in an over — five sixes and a four.