Lahore: Paceman Shoaib Akhtar was Tuesday named in Pakistan's 15-man squad for September's Champions Trophy in Pakistan, capping a remarkable comeback just months after he was banned for five years.
The 32-year-old won a court battle in July to temporarily suspend an 18-month ban for disciplinary problems. An original five-year ban imposed in April was reduced on appeal.
"We held two trial matches where Akhtar proved his fitness and he is willing to return and since he is determined he is an asset for Pakistan," chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed told a news conference.
Akthar -- nicknamed the "Rawalpindi Express" after his home town, and holder of the record for the world's fastest recorded delivery -- said he was delighted to be in the squad.
"I am over the moon," Akhtar told AFP. "I am gearing up for the Champions Trophy after putting the terrible last few months behind me."
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said last month that Akhtar would only be allowed to play if he paid an outstanding fine of seven million rupees (115,000 dollars), but it has softened its stance since paceman Mohammad Asif was ruled out by a doping scandal.
Akhtar has refused to pay the fine while he waits for the court to rule on whether it will overturn the ban.
"His lawyer has argued that Akhtar can pay the fine once the appeal against the reduced ban is heard in the court, so we have decided to keep the legal matter and cricket separate," PCB chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi said.
Akhtar, who has not played for Pakistan this year, impressed in the recent trial matches.
The maverick paceman criticised the PCB publicly after he was left out of a 15-man list for central contracts, an offence which ended in a five-year ban.
Also staging a return to the squad is wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal, who was left out of the side that featured in the six-nation Asia Cup held in Pakistan in June-July.
Ahmed said Akmal is still the first choice keeper.
"We rested Akmal and he too showed improvement in the trial matches so we have included him," said Ahmed, adding that ace batsman Mohammad Yousuf had opted not to play in the Trophy due to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"Since we would miss Yousuf... we have included a specialist batsman, Bazid Khan, and have also brought in opener Khalid Latif," said Ahmed.
Allrounder Shahid Afridi is in the squad despite poor recent batting form but another allrounder, Fawad Alam, was left out.
Squad: Shoaib Malik (capt), Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul Haq, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Sohail Tanveer, Umar Gul, Rao Iftikhar, Bazid Khan, Abdul Rauf, Khalid Latif, Saeed Ajmal