Pakistan retain Afridi as ODI captain for NZ tour

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Pakistan on Wednesday retained flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi as captain or the upcoming six-match ODI series against New Zealand.

Updated: January 12, 2011 15:54 IST
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Pakistan on Wednesday retained flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi as captain while controversial wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal was also recalled for the upcoming six-match ODI series against New Zealand starting January 22 in Wellington.

The national selection committee met in Lahore today and announced a 16-member squad with no real surprises except the return of Akmal, who was recently cleared by the PCB for selection.

Akmal was one of the three cricketers reportedly asked by the PCB to submit details of bank accounts and assets from the last three years to the integrity committee, probing charges of spot-fixing which led to the suspensions of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer.

Misbah-ul-Haq, who led Pakistan in the two-Test series against New Zealand, will be Afridi's deputy. Experienced batsman Mohammad Yousuf, who was included in the preliminary World Cup squad last week, has been left out for the series.

Former captain Shoaib Malik and Fawad Alam were also overlooked.

"It is a great feeling to be back in the national squad and my target is to impress the selectors with my performances and book a place in the final World Cup squad," Akmal said.

The keeper has not been selected since the tour of England which ended in September last year and was marred by spot-fixing controversy.

Akmal said it was great to be back in the national squad.

"I am looking forward to the series," he said.

The selectors and board have lifted a big burden off Afridi whose captaincy for the World Cup is also under scrutiny but gets another chance to show his credentials as player and captain in New Zealand.

Experienced fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul will be supported by three other pacers Wahab Riaz, Tanvir Ahmed and Sohail Tanvir.

The one-day series in New Zealand will be Pakistan's last international outing before the World Cup in the subcontinent to be jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from February 19 to April 2.

Squad: Shahid Afridi (Capt), Muhammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Tanvir Ahmed, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Abdul Rehman and Saeed Ajmal.

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