Pakistan have named Iftikhar Ahmed, the middle-order batsman who last played an international in 2016, in their squad for the one-day internationals against Sri Lanka, along with Mohammad Rizwan, the wicket-keeper batsman, and Mohammad Nawaz, the all-rounder.
Mohammad Hafeez was left out of the squad for the three-match series, starting in Karachi on 27 September. Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali, the pacemen, were the other notable absentees from the 16-member squad led by Sarfaraz Ahmed. While Afridi has been sidelined with dengue, Hasan is suffering from back spasms.
Iftikhar earned a place in the squad after scoring back-to-back hundreds in the Pakistan Cup, the domestic 50-over tournament. The last time he played an ODI was in November 2015, against England in Sharjah.
Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan's new coach and chief selector, lauded Iftikhar for his consistency over the last few seasons, and cited his fitness as a contributing factor in his recall. "Iftikhar has 51 average in List A cricket, he has been a top performer in the last three-to-four seasons," Misbah said.
"He is, I think, our fifth bowler, and you can utilise him. His fitness is excellent, he is a mature player, he is a three-dimensional. Fielding-wise [he is] good, and he can do bowling, he can bat, he has 91 strike-rate.
"That's the reason we have brought him [into the squad]. Previously, he was not [in the team] because of Hafeez and Shoaib [Malik]. Now he is in the team, and he can bowl off-spin too."
Nawaz, the spin-bowling all-rounder, also impressed in the Pakistan Cup with two half centuries, and is set to play his first ODI since turning out against Ireland in August 2018.
Rizwan, who scored two centuries against Australia in the five-match ODI series in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year, had been overlooked for the World Cup, with captain Sarfaraz Ahmed returning to the set-up. However, Misbah suggested Rizwan could play as a specialist batsman this time.
"Safaraz and Rizwan's roles are different," he said, "If someone has scored two hundreds at No. 4, you have a chance. You have the added advantage of having two wicket-keepers. Fitness-wise, he is very good, and he will be in the loop. We are trying to encourage such players, and we will try to give them matches whenever we have a chance."
Pakistan ODI squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hasnain, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Usman Khan Shinwari, Wahab Riaz
Personalise your homepage with an ICC account
News, fixtures and updates tailored to your favourite team. Never miss a moment!