Karachi: The Pakistan selection committee’s decision to replace wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider with Adnan Akmal, instead of more talented Sarfaraz Ahmed, has come as a huge surprise.
Sarfaraz Ahmed, who represented Pakistan in the Hobart Test in Australia and has also played ODIs, is considered among the top three keepers in Pakistan in line to play for the national team after Kamran and Haider.
However, chief selector Mohsin Khan, was not willing to talk on why they had picked Adnan ahead of Sarfaraz.
But sources in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) claimed that since Sarfaraz was playing for the Pakistan A team in the West Indies, there were logistical issues in flying him in time to join the team in Dubai for the first Test.
Adnan, the younger brother of Pakistan cricketers -- Kamran and Umar, left on Thursday for Dubai to join the national team for the two Test series against South Africa starting from Friday.
The former national selector and Test player, Salim Jaffer said he found Board’s decision surprising since in the past players had been called up from the Pakistan A team while touring some other country to join the senior team in case of an emergency.
“It happened recently when Muhammad Irfan was called from Sri Lanka to join the team in England,” said Jaffer.
The selection of Adnan has raised eyebrows more because a section of the media has long suspected Kamran of being allegedly linked to bookmakers.
“It is strange that when Kamran is out of favour with the selectors, his brother has been called up to replace him in the Test team. In fact, the mysterious circumstances in which Zulqarnain was forced to flee the team hotel in Dubai and fly to London also raises questions,” one former player said.
Haider disappeared from the team hotel on Monday to emerge in London where he has claimed asylum on grounds that his life is under threat from match-fixers.
Kamran, who is in Karachi playing in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy matches, understandably was not willing to speak on any controversial issue but said he was happy to see his brother getting a national call.
“It is a big honour for our family now that three of us have got a chance to play for Pakistan,” he said.
He also said Adnan like Umar was quite capable and had the temperament to adjust to Test cricket.
Adnan himself said before leaving for Dubai that he was confident and was feeling no pressure.
“I have had a good domestic season and I am confident I can adjust quickly in the team and not let my teammates down,” Adnan said.