Akhtar, Asif included for Afro-Asian Cup

Published: Friday, May 11, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Dhaka:Pakistani pacemen Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, who missed a lot of action on-field last year for various reasons have made their way into the Asia squad for Afro-Asian Cup announced here today.

Dope-tainted Pak duo was the part of the 14-man squad, to be led by Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, that includes Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasuriya and Mohammad Yousuf.

Besides Sachin, Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh are the other Indians in the list.

Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Chief Executive Ashraf-ul-Haq said that the four selectors - A F M Farooque (Bangla), Chetan Chauhan ( India), Mohsin Khan (Pak) and Lalith Kaluperuma (Lanka) - chose the team unanimously.

However, the stunning part was the inclusion of players like Harbhajan Singh, who has been dropped from the ODI side by the BCCI and sent back to play domestic cricket, while Bangladesh stars like Mashraffe Mortaza, who ranks in the top ten of the ICC cricket rankings for bowlers, and promising all rounder Saqibul Hasan have been omitted.

When asked about the non-inclusion of players like Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, Chauhan said, ''Dravid asked himself to be excused from the tournament because of the grinding schedule for the next few months and Ganguly was not considered looking at the age factor.''

While the Indian captain's show of solidarity for Asian cricket is commendable, it is strange that age always comes in between Ganguly and selection and not performance.

However, that logic did not work either as several of the promising rookies were denied a chance, while those like Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas are in the ranks and Shoaib Akhtar, who is out of the Pakistan team for all sorts of reasons, chosen.

Other notable absentee from the list was Mutthiah Muralitharan, who has been exempted for his county commitments asked why only Mohammed Rafique was chosen from Bangladesh, Farooque's lame explanation was, ''They have time.''

And Haq summed it all, when he said, ''We had to take the biggest names as it was Asia against Africa.'' The ODIs take place in Bangalore on June 6 and in Channai on June 9 and 10. The total prize money fort the tournament is US$100,000.

The ACC will also play a men's and women's Twenty20 game on June 5 in Bangalore with their African counterpart.

Asia Squad:

M Jayawardane (Capt-SL) , Sanath Jayasurya (SL), Sachin Tendulkar (Ind), Mohammed Yousuf (Pak), Yuvraj Singh (Ind), Mahendra singh Dhoni (wk-Ind), Harbhajan Singh (Ind), Chaminda Vaas (SL), Shoaib Akhtar (Pak), Lasith Malinga (SL), Mohammed Rafique (Ban), Mohammed Asif (SL) and Upul Tharanga (SL).

Officials: Sultan Rana (Manager), Roger Binny (Coach), John Gloster (Physio)

Twenty20 squads

Men: Shoaib Malik (Capt-Pak), Tamim Iqbal (Ban), Imran Nazir (Pak), Mohammed Ashrafful (Ban), T Dilshan (SL), Shahid Afridi (Pak), Kamran Akhmal (wk-Pak), Abdur razzak (Ban), Parvees Mahroof (SL), Mashraffe Mortaza (Ban) and Munaf Patel (Ind). Coach: Roger Binny (Ind)

Women: Mithali Raj (capt, Ind), Siriwardene (Vice-Capt, SL), Sulakshana Naik (wk-Ind), Jaya Sharma (Ind), PRCS Kumarihami (SL), Bismah Mahroof (Pak), Jhulan Goswami (Ind), Rumeli Dhar (Ind), Priti Dimri (Ind), Urooj Mumtaz Khan (Pak) and L E Kaushalya (SL). Manager : Shamsha Hashmi (Pak)

ThatsCricket (with inputs from Agencies)

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