Batsman Haris Sohail has been named as Umar Akmal’s replacement in Pakistan’s Champions Trophy squad after the wicketkeeper was controversially axed for failing a fitness test on the eve of the tournament.
Akmal was jettisoned by the Pakistan camp on Sunday, a move that has caused angst between head coach Mickey Arthur and national selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, according to reports in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.
Akmal, 26, failed a fitness test during a training camp in Lahore in March and was subsequently overlooked for Pakistan’s one-day international tour of the West Indies in April.
While the national side was in the Caribbean, Akmal was declared fit at the National Cricket Academy under the supervision of Inzamam, a decision that reportedly displeased Arthur, who called for another fitness test when the squad arrived in Birmingham.
After failing the second fitness test, Akmal was dropped from the 15-man squad, which now features his replacement Sohail, a 28-year-old left-hander.
It’s been a difficult time for the controversial Akmal, who was fined 50 per cent of his match fee for questioning teammate Junaid Khan’s absence during a match in the Pakistan Cup last month.
Akmal, as captain of Punjab, said he was not informed by his team why Junaid was a last-minute change in his side’s XI, saying at the toss: "I just found out when I walked into the ground that he (Junaid Khan) is absent. I'm very surprised. The manager and coach told me he's not going to be playing today. It's a shocking news for me, as captain."
Junaid replied to Umar’s comments only moments later in a video posted on Twitter.
"I am saddened to hear Umar Akmal's remarks that he made on television, saying 'I ran away from the team'," Junaid said.
"I disagree with that. I am dealing with a case of food poisoning and the team management is well aware of that. In fact, I was advised by the team doctor to take a rest day."
The discussion was frowned upon by the PCB, fining both players who were in Pakistan’s Champions Trophy squad before Akmal was sent home.
Champions Trophy 2017 Guide
Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh.
Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.
26 May – Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval
27 May – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Edgbaston
28 May – India v New Zealand, The Oval
29 May – Australia v Pakistan, Edgbaston
30 May – New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston
30 May – Bangladesh vs India, The Oval
1 June – England v Bangladesh, The Oval (Day)
2 June – Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (D)
3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)
4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)
5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)
6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)
7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)
8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)
9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)
10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)
11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)
12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)
14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)
15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)
18 June – Final, The Oval (D)
19 June – Reserve day (D)