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Misbah announces Pakistan’s squad for Zimbabwe series

LAHORE: Pakistan Head Coach and outgoing Chief Selector Misbahul Haq has announced the squad for the upcoming Zimbabwe series.

The players selected for the ODI and T20 series include Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafiq, Abid Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Rohail Nazir, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz and Zafar Gohar

Zimbabwe will arrive later today for three ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League matches on October 30, November 1 and 3, which will be followed by three T20Is on November 7, 8, and 10.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Misbah said the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) would give more chance to young players like Khushdil Shah and Haider Ali in T20 format so that they can show what they are capable of at the highest level and cement their places for future assignments.

He said that the selectors have resisted the temptation of experimenting in the ODIs for three simple reasons.

“Firstly, we cannot afford to be complacent and have to respect each and every opponent irrespective of their strength or international ranking. Secondly, every ODI counts as it leads towards automatic qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, and thirdly, we have not played any ODI cricket in the past 12 months.”

Pakistan have not played ODIs since the home series against Sri Lanka 12 months ago and the Rawalpindi matches will be part of ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League from which the seven top-ranked sides, apart from hosts India, will qualify directly for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.

“For the Lahore T20Is, the selectors have preferred continuity and consistency, while acknowledging the just concluded National T20 Cup had provided some exciting talent, which will be considered for the Pakistan and Shaheens’ next month tour to New Zealand and early next year’s home T20Is,” read the PCB statement.

The selectors have rewarded Central Punjab’s Abdullah Shafiq with a call-up after the 20-year-old former Pakistan U19 batsman finished as the seventh most successful batsman in the National T20 Cup with 358 runs with a strike-rate of over 133. Abdullah scored a century on his T20 debut, becoming only the second player in history to make a century on both first-class and T20 debuts.

‘Strategic decisions’

Fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Naseem Shah, according to the PCB statement, were not considered for selection as they are recovering from injuries, but have been advised to play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy to prove their fitness before they are considered for selection.

While explaining the reasons why senior players like Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed were not selected, Misbah said, “these are strategic decisions as Shoaib’s absence will provide players like Abdullah Shafiq, Haider Ali and Khushdil Shah better chances of featuring in the upcoming matches.”

The chief selector pointed out that the PCB followed the same philosophy while leaving out Mohammad Amir and Usman Shinwari so that bowlers like Mohammad Hasnain, Musa Khan and Haris Rauf can get an extended run.

“Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz provide us that useful experience in the batting and bowling respectively, that will benefit the youngsters,” he said.

‘Mohammad Rizwan first choice’

Similarly, Misbah said that not many will disagree that on present form, Mohammad Rizwan is the first-choice wicketkeeper in both the white-ball formats.

“With an eye on future and as part of the succession plan, Rohail Nazir has been chosen as Rizwan’s back-up wicketkeeper.”

He also advised Sarfaraz to play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy to rediscover form for the tour for the longer and more demanding tour of New Zealand.

The probables will assemble in Lahore on 21 October for COVID-19 testing and after observing a five-day isolation period, during which they will play two 50-over matches at the Gaddafi Stadium, will travel to Rawalpindi on Monday, 26 October.

The probables for three T20Is will be shortlisted after the ODIs and players unlikely to feature in them will be advised to play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy third-round matches, which will commence from 6 November.

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