Kamran, Malik to return to Pak squad for NZ tour and 2011 WC

Karachi: Former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik and wicket-keeper batsman Kamran Akmal are expected to return to the national side for the forthcoming New Zealand tour and are also tipped to feature in the preliminary squad for next year’s ODI World Cup in the sub-continent.

According to sources close to the national selectors, both the players have impressed with their recent commitment to domestic cricket and also with their form.

Both the players were dropped for the ongoing series against South Africa with fingers also pointed on Kamran’s alleged involvement in spot-fixing.

“But now the International Cricket Council has given the Pakistan Cricket Board clearance to consider Kamran for the coming events,” one source said.

Malik has been in prolific form in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, where he scored a fifty, a double hundred and a hundred while Kamran also notched up a century in the ongoing round of matches.

The national selectors are also said to have got clearance from PCB chairman Ejaz Butt.

“The selectors will announce squad for the tour to New Zealand later this week while they have to announce the preliminary World Cup squad by December 19,” the source said.

The source said that the selectors had also been told by Butt that Shahid Afridi will continue to lead the Twenty20 and ODI teams while Misbah-ul-Haq will be retained as captain for the Test matches in New Zealand.

“The selectors have now asked the board for clearance on leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and all-rounder Rana Naved,” the source said.

He said both players will be required to be given a green signal by the integrity committee of PCB for selection.

Kaneria was due to join the national team for the Test ongoing series against South Africa in Abu Dhabi and Dubai but was held back at the last moment by the board.

Sources said the decision to hold him back came after ICC indicated that Kaneria was still part of an ongoing spot-fixing investigation in England.

Kaneria and his fellow Essex player Mervyn Westfield are presently under investigation for trying to defraud bookmakers during a pro-40 overs match involving Essex and Durham.

However, the police did not charge Kaneria for lack of evidence but Westfield is now under trial.