On Monday, Pakistan named their 15-man squad for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, which will start from 17th October onward and will take place in Oman and the UAE. The Men in Green will begin the campaign in the Super 12 round with a marquee clash against India on 24th October in Dubai, before meeting New Zealand two days later. Afghanistan and two other Round-1 teams are also in the group.
Babar Azam will lead the side, while Shadab Khan will be the vice captain for the tournament. The likes of Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hafeez and Imad Wasim have made it to the final squad. Shoaib Malik, Faheem Ashraf, Wahab Riaz and Sarfaraz Ahmed are the big omissions from the announced squad.
Pakistan’s think tank preferred youth over experience for the backup wicketkeeper spot with the inclusion of Azam Khan over Sarfaraz Ahmed. His exploits in the domestic T20 competitions, a healthy average of 22.83 and a big strike rate of 149.92, have helped him seal a place in the World Cup squad.
“Azam Khan is an aggressive and attacking batter who also keeps wickets, a combination that has earned him the selectors’ nod ahead of Sarfaraz Ahmed,” said Pakistan Chief Selector Muhammad Wasim.
Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah are the surprise inclusions in the squad, having last played a T20I for Pakistan against Zimbabwe and South Africa earlier this year. Commenting on their inclusion, Muhammad Wasim said, “Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah are the best in the available pool of batters and will provide us solutions to our middle-order difficulties.”
With the UAE acting as a home venue for the Pakistan team, the squad has plenty of spin options in Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz and Imad Wasim to exploit the slowness in the pitches there. The pace department consists of five frontline seamers, including Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain and Mohammad Wasim.
Opener Fakhar Zaman, leg spinner Usman Qadir and pacer Shahnawaz Dhani have been named as traveling reserves.
- Babar Azam (C), Shadab Khan (VC), Sohaib Maqsood, Asif Ali, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Azam Khan (WK), Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Khushdil Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Wasim
- Traveling Reserves: Fakhar Zaman, Usman Qadir, Shahnawaz Dhani
The same squad will play the upcoming T20s against New Zealand and England ahead of their tournament opener against India. The team will first play five T20Is against the visiting New Zealand in Lahore, starting from 25th September onward, before hosting England for two T20Is on 13th and 14th October at Rawalpindi.
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