The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) National Selection Committee has decided to replace Umar Akmal with Haris Sohail for the upcoming Champions Trophy 2017, to be held in England and Wales, a press release issued Tuesday said.
Headed by former national team captain Inzamama-ul-Haq, the National Selection Committee had called Umar Amin, Asif Zakir and Haris Sohail for a fitness test today at the National Cricket Academy in a bid to determine which player would replace Akmal.
After testing all three players and based on the reports submitted by the trainer, the committee decided to select Haris Sohail as Akmal’s replacement for the tournament, which is set to begin from June 1.
Akmal had earlier failed to pass the fitness test in the pre-camp for the Champions Trophy in Birmingham, the second fitness test he had failed in two months, prompting officials to remove him from the national squad and ask the cricketer to return home to work on his fitness.
Sohail is expected to join the squad before the side’s warm-up game against Bangladesh on Saturday.
He was among three batsmen, alongside Umar Amin and Asif Zakir, who were assessed at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) following Umar’s failed fitness tests in England. Based on reports submitted by the NCA trainer, PCB’s selection committee, headed by Inzamam-ul-Haq, picked Sohail to join Pakistan’s squad for the tournament that begins on June 1.
Sohail had picked up a knee injury while sprinting ahead of the second Test at P Sara Oval in Colombo in 2015. That forced Sohail to undergo an extensive rehabilitation program thereafter at NCA and had a surgery in Dubai which reportedly went unsuccessful pushing his career into doubts. The PCB took over his case and sent him to England for yet another rehabilitation program thus allowing him to make a comeback.
“I worked really hard for my comeback after battling with the injury for long,” said Sohail. “I have kept myself prepared…as a sportsman my aim is to perform and when I got dropped earlier it because of my injury and not because of my performance. So I am sure selectors have taken that into account while shortlisting my name. So all the hard work i have done is paying off.”
The selection marks a welcome return for Sohail, who had started his ODI career brightly. In just his fourth international innings, Sohail had scored an unbeaten 85 to steer Pakistan home in a tense finish against New Zealand in Dubai. His consistency was perhaps the most eye-catching feature about his batting; in 21 ODI innings, he failed to reach double figures on just four occasions, averaging 43 at a strike-rate of 82.86. However, a serious knee injury derailed his career, and there were even concerns that he might have to give up the game.
For Sohail, the call-up after two years almost felt like he was receiving his “debut call-up”. He said: “When I got unfit, it was such a situation where I was in top form, runs were flowing, but falling unfit then was disappointing. I hope all my effort and struggle over the years pay off this time.”—Agencies