Karachi:Pakistan selectors will have a tough task at hand when they sit to finalise the 15-member squad for the Champions Trophy on Friday as they have to take the hard decision of either axing a promising young all-rounder or a senior player.
The seven-member selection committee headed by former Test spinner Iqbal Qasim also have to take a hard look at the fitness of pace bowler Muhammad Asif, who has not played any competitive cricket since last July.
"It is not going to be easy for the selectors when they sit down on Friday to finalise the Champions Trophy squad because in South Africa the conditions are tough at a higher altitude and there is need for experience," a source said.
The source said if the selectors decide to call up Asif then they will have to either axe allrounder Fawad Alam who scored a debut century in the Test series in Sri Lanka or a senior player.
"Fawad has become a good utility player for the team and plus the captain, coach and manager are very impressed with his commitment and attitude in the team regardless of whether he is playing or not," the source said.
He said if the selectors decide to retain Fawad then they would have to axe either one of three senior players including Mohammad Yousuf, Salman Butt or Misbah-ul-Haq.
"Butt was already overlooked for the one-day series in Sri Lanka after a dismal show in the Tests and the captain is also said to be unhappy with his attitude and commitment so in all likelihood the selectors might opt to pick just one specialist opener in Imran Nazir and manage with makeshift openers like Fawad Alam, Kamran Akmal or even Shoaib Malik to partner him in the Champions Trophy," the source said.
He said if Butt was again ignored then finalising 15 men would not be a problem with Yousuf and Misbah retaining their places despite putting up a poor show in Sri Lanka.
"But the selectors are double minded since Butt is an experienced opener and in South Africa it is always safe to open with a proper opening pair and not experiment," the source said.
However, the source said that allrounder, Rana Naved who excelled in Sri Lanka in the one-dayers, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Aamer, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul and Abdul Razzaq were sure to be selected.
"Rana is so confident of being picked for the Champions Trophy that he didn't even bother to go back to England after the Sri Lankan series to resume his contract with Yorkshire," the source said.
According to the source, selectors have narrowed down to 18 players, namely:
Imran Nazir, Salman Butt, Khalid Latif, Khurrum Manzoor, Umar Akmal, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Rana Naved, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal.