Pakistan drop Ajmal for Test series against Sri Lanka

Lahore, June 3 (IANS) Pakistan on Wednesday dropped veteran off-spinner Saeed Ajmal for their three-match Test series against Sri Lanka starting on June 17 in Galle.

Ajmal returned to international cricket in April following his suspension for bowling with an illegal action, featuring in two one-day internationals (ODIs) and a T20 match against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

The 37-year-old was banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last September after he was found to straighten his elbow to 43 degrees, significantly above the legal limit of 15, reports cricket.com.au.

Ajmal remodelled his action and was cleared to resume bowling on the eve of the 2015 Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, but failed to feature in Pakistan’s campaign that ended in a quarter-final loss to Australia.

His April return to international cricket with his new action was fruitless as Ajmal took one wicket in three matches from 22.3 overs at more than a run-a-ball.

Despite his absence, the off-spinner remains the highest ranked Test bowler for Pakistan, currently sitting 11th in the ICC’s official Test rankings. Ajmal joins Babar Azam, Bilawal Bhatti, Sami Aslam as omissions, while Ahmed Shehzad, Shan Masood and Ehsan Adil have been included.

“While selecting the squad, the selection committee considered the following key areas: suitability to play in varied playing conditions, potential to perform at international level, current form and fitness, performance in the previous tours of Bangladesh and recently concluded Pakistan A team’s tour of Sri Lanka, and feedback from the team management on the performance of players on Bangladesh tour,” Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief selector Haroon Rashid said.

“Fawad Alam, Sami Aslam and some other players were also under consideration but could not be included but they remain on the selector’s radar,” he said.

“Rahat Ali, Sohail Khan and Sohaib Maqsood are still on rehab after sustaining injuries and it is hoped that they would be available for selection in the near future.

“Selection committee has also kept its options open in case of need for the 16th member keeping in mind the extreme weather conditions in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Shan Masood, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Sarfraz Ahmed (wicket-keeper), Yasir Shah, Zulfiqar Babar, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Imran Khan, Ehsan Adil.

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