Lahore: The Pakistan Cricket Board on Tuesday included fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar in the provisional 30-member squad for the Champions Trophy, but dropped Mohammad Asif amid new drugs allegations.
A Pakistani court earlier this month said the 32-year-old Akhtar was free to play cricket again after suspending an 18-month ban imposed on him by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for indiscipline.
"We have shown a big heart by including Akhtar as it is in the larger interest of the game," said the PCB's chief operating officer while announcing the squad in a press conference.
Pakistan had to delay the announcement after Akhtar was asked to pay a seven million rupee ($162,000) fine, which was imposed by an appellate tribunal last month along with the ban -- that replaced an original five-year ban imposed earlier this year.
Akhtar's lawyer Monday assured that the paceman will pay the fine once his appeal against his latest ban is decided.
Akhtar was in April banned for five years over a series of discipline violations, including public criticism of the PCB on excluding him from a list of 15 contracted players.
He was already on two years' probation for hitting Asif with a bat days before the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa last September.
Asif was in the preliminary squad until his name was announced by the Indian Premier League (IPL) as dope offender on Monday.
He also faces an internal PCB inquiry after he was seized at Dubai airport last month on charges of possessing opium. He was detained for 19 days before the Gulf police said the quantity of drug was 'insignificant' and deported him.
Akhtar and Asif missed the last Champions Trophy held in India in 2006 after they were withdrawn from the team following positive dope tests.
A PCB doping tribunal banned Akhtar for two years and Asif for one year. However the bans were overturned on appeals.
Besides losing Asif, Pakistan also suffered a crucial blow when ace batsman Mohammad Yousuf pulled out of the Champions Trophy saying he would not play any cricket in the holy month of Ramadan to focus on prayers.
Naghmi said all the 30 players will undergo dope tests on July 19 and 20 to avoid any further doping controversy.
Pakistan hosts the biennial Champions Trophy from Sept 11-28 but the eight top teams event will be played under a cloud after players from Australia, New Zealand and England raised safety concerns.
Last week's blasts in the capital Islamabad and Karachi further endangered Pakistan's chances of hosting the event.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is awaiting a security assessment of Pakistan during the Asia Cup, which finished here on Sunday. The ICC categorically said it is following a security process and will not compromise on it.
In case Pakistan is not found fit to host the Trophy, Sri Lanka has been chosen the alternate venue.
Squad: Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul Haq, Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, Khalid Latif, Ahmed Shahzad, Khurrum Manzoor, Yasir Hameed, Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Bazid Khan, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanveer, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Hafeez, Yasir Arafat, Mansoor Amjad, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Mohammad Ali, Rao Iftikhar, Sohail Khan, Abdur Rauf, Wahab Riaz, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Amir, Kamran Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed, Abdul Rehman and Saeed Ajmal.