Pakistan on Tuesday left out experienced batsman Mohammad Yousuf from their final 15-man squad for next month’s cricket World Cup hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The selectors also surprisingly deferred naming the squad’s captain, raising doubts over whether all-rounder Shahid Afridi will lead the side after Pakistan’s 2-1 defeat in the Twenty20 series against New Zealand last month.
Thirty-six-year-old Yousuf was deemed not fit enough to warrant a place in the squad after he was last month named in the 30-man preliminary team.
His future was thrown into doubt last week after he was omitted from the one-day team due to play a six-match series in New Zealand from January 22.
Yousuf retired in protest over an indefinite ban imposed on him by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in March following a disastrous tour of Australia in which Pakistan lost all its matches under his leadership.
However, he came out of retirement in July and was sent to England after his ban was revoked, featuring in the last of four Tests and in the one-day matches.
Yousuf also played the last of five one-day matches against South Africa in Pakistan’s neutral venue series in United Arab Emirates in November before he was forced to pull out of the Tests due to a recurring groin injury.
He has so far scored 9,720 runs in 288 one-day matches, including 386 in World Cup matches in 1999, 2003 and 2007.
With Yousuf’s exclusion the squad is largely inexperienced, with only seven players having featured in previous World Cups.
Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib Akhtar are the only survivors of Pakistan’s runners-up finish in the 1999 tournament.
Pakistan will be without key players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer who were all provisionally suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on charges of spot-fixing during team’s tour to England last year.
A decision on their case is due on February 5 and the PCB last week said they can be included in the team if absolved.
Another player, Kamran Akmal, who was also under suspicion of match-fixing, was included after being reportedly cleared by the ICC, but all-rounder Shoaib Malik and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria failed to get clearance.
Both Malik and Kaneria, part of the 2007 World Cup team, are also reportedly under suspicion of match-fixing.
Pakistan, who won the World Cup title in 1992, are placed in Group A of the 14-team event to be played between February 19 to April 2. They open their campaign against Kenya at Hambantota on February 23.
Squad: Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanveer, Ahmed Shahzad