Islamabad, Pakistan:Pakistan dropped wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal from its 20-member squad for cricket's upcoming Asia Cup, the chief selector said on Thursday.
Selector Salahuddin Ahmed said Akmal was rested to give youngster Sarfraz Ahmad a chance in the six-nation tournament, starting in Pakistan on June 24.
"Akmal is still our first-choice wicketkeeper, but he needs to sharpen his skills behind the wickets," Ahmed told The Associated Press.
Pakistan is placed in Group B for the Asia Cup with archrival India and minnows Hong Kong, while Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates are in Group A.
The top two teams from each group will advance to the second round. The final was scheduled for Karachi on July 6.
Pakistan will be without its two ace pacemen _ Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif.
Akhtar was serving an 18-month ban imposed by the Pakistan Cricket Board for a number of violations of discipline.
Asif had been in detention in Dubai since June 1 when authorities allegedly found an illegal substance in the fast bowler's wallet as he traveled though the international airport while returning to Pakistan after playing in the Indian domestic Twenty20 competition.
"It's hard to go without Asif and Akhtar in the Asia Cup, but we can't help it," Ahmed said.
Team: Shoaib Malik, Salman Butt, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Fawad Alam, Sohail Tanvir, Sarfraz Ahmad, Umar Gul, Rao Iftikhar, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz, Nasir Jamshed, Yasir Hameed, Bazid Khan, Nomanullah, Mansoor Amjad, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rauf.