Afridi named as Pakistan captain for England tour

-selectors include Kaneria, Akhtar, Khan and Malik in 35-man squad

KARACHI, (Reuters) – All-rounder Shahid Afridi will  captain Pakistan on their tour of England this year after announcing at the weekend he was available again for test cricket following a four-year absence.

Afridi, 30, will lead Pakistan in the four-nation Asia Cup from June 12 and then in the six tests and five one-dayers that Pakistan are scheduled to play against Australia and England.

Former captains Younus Khan and Shoaib Malik, who were  recently banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board for indiscipline, have been selected in a 35-man preliminary squad.

Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who has not represented Pakistan for a year because of fitness and disciplinary problems, is also included in the preliminary squad.

Younus and Malik are appealing against their bans while Afridi is appealing against a fine imposed for ball-tampering in Australia this year. Afridi captained Pakistan in the subsequent Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies where the 2009 champions lost to Australia in the semi-finals.

“It is a great honour for me but also a big challenge but test cricket is not like T20 or one-day cricket it is tough and  very, very challenging,” Afridi told a news conference yesterday.

“I don’t want to make tall claims because we are going  through a rebuilding phase in our test team so it is going to be a tough tour for us.”

Chief selector Moshin Khan said Younus and Malik’s inclusion was dependent on their appeals succeeding.  “We have included them because we need the best available players for the coming tours. And they have appealed against their bans and the board has also said it will be reviewing their bans,” Khan said.

Khan said leg-spinner Danish Kaneria had also been included after clearance from the board although he is facing an inquiry from Essex police for alleged involvement in spot fixing during a county match.

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