Misbah-ul-Haq's impressive performances in the World Twenty20 have earned him a recall to Pakistan's squad for the first Test against South Africa in Karachi on Monday. But there was no place in the 15-man lineup for either Inzamam-ul-Haq, the former captain, or Shoaib Akhtar.
Misbah was the third-highest run-scorer in South Africa, helping Pakistan reach the final and was also the highest run-scorer in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan's premier first-class tournament. He played the last of his five Tests four years ago against Bangladesh. Joining him in the middle order is Mohammad Yousuf, who yesterday agreed to represent Pakistan, after having initially signed up for the Indian Cricket League (ICL).
But there was no place in the squad for Inzamam, another ICL signatory. Inzamam has retired from ODIs, though insists he wants to play Test cricket. Salahuddin Ahmed, Pakistan's chief selector, said that Inzamam had been considered for the squad but had declared himself unavailable for the first Test.
"I spoke to Inzamam and though he didn't specify the reasons, he said he was unavailable for the first Test," said Salahuddin. "If he is available for the second Test [in Lahore], he will be considered."
Shoaib's exclusion was also expected, as he is currently the subject of a disciplinary inquiry into his altercation with Mohammad Asif in South Africa. "Shoaib's is a policy decision," said Salahuddin. "The disciplinary inquiry is ongoing and only when their decision has come will we take a decision."
Rao Iftikhar Anjum took the third fast bowler's spot, edging out Sohail Tanvir, the left-arm, wrong-foot bowler who did so well in the Twenty20 World Cup. "Sohail is a very talented all-rounder but we feel he still has some time before he is ready for the longer version of the game," added Salahuddin.
Pakistan will field yet another new opening pair when the first Test begins from October 1. One of Taufeeq Umar, who averages 74 in four Tests against South Africa, or Mohammad Hafeez will partner Salman Butt, the vice-captain.
Pakistan squad: Shoaib Malik (capt), Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal (wk), Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Danish Kaneria, Faisal Iqbal, Yasir Hameed, Taufeeq Umar, Abdur Rehman