The Pakistan Cricket Board announced a new squad for Men T20 World Cup 2021 on Friday, adding the name of the former captain Sarfaraz Ahmad instead of the young Azam Khan.
In a statement, PCB said that the national team selecting committee made three changes to the last month’s announced team after careful consideration of the performance and form of the players in the National T20 Cup.
PCB said, “After reviewing player performances in the highly competitive National T20 and in consultation with the team management, we have decided to include Haider Ali, Fakhar Zaman, and Sarfaraz Ahmed in the squad for the … World Cup.”
Wasim said that the three in-form players would bring with them a “wealth of experience and talent, and provide further stability, balance, and strength to the side”.
“It must be tough for Azam, Khushdil, and Hasnain for missing out but they still have a lot to offer in their careers,” Wasim said, adding that trio was in the PCB’s future plans for post-World Cup cricket.
“I am pleased with the intensity and high quality of cricket that we have witnessed in the National T20. It has not only provided the players excellent match practice in the lead-up to the UAE competition, [but] it has also given us the opportunity to closely monitor the player progress and then make decisions that are in the best interest of the side for what will be a cut-throat tournament.”
The young Haider Ali who completed his 300 runs with three fifties in his name in the National T20 Cup replaced Muhammad Hasnain, while Fakhar Zaman who was originally in the traveling reserve has swapped places with Khushdil Shah.
PCB added that the decision on Sohaib Maqsood’s addition to the squad will be made following medical advice. The top-order batter underwent MRI scans for his lower back after the October 6 National T20 match against Northern and missed Thursday’s Punjab derby against Central Punjab.
The T20 World Cup will be held in the United Arab Emirates from October 17 to November 14. Pakistan is in Group 2 and will open its campaign against India on October 24 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The squad announced by chief selector Muhammad Wasim on September 6 was harshly criticized after a number of experienced campaigners were left out and some out-of-form inexperienced players were selected for the tournament.
During the 18 matches, the first leg of the Domestic regional tournament at least five among the 15 selected men for the national side were not justifying the decision of their selection. Solely, Sohaib Maqsood of the quintet improved the poor start with two half-centuries for bottom-placed Southern Punjab.
However, his teammates Azam Khan and Khushdil Shah, Northern batter Asif Ali, and Sindh speedster Mohammad Hasnain all failed to satisfy the expectations and hardly made any impact at the Pindi Cricket Stadium.
The abrupt cancellation of the New Zealand white-ball series last month had already complicated Pakistan’s preparations for the T20 World Cup because the international fixtures against the Black Caps would have provided a stern test for the players picked by Wasim and company.
Pakistan Squad for World Cup
- Babar Azam (captain, Central Punjab)
- Shadab Khan (vice-captain, Northern)
- Asif Ali (Northern)
- Fakhar Zaman (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)
- Haider Ali (Northern)
- Haris Rauf (Northern)
- Hasan Ali (Central Punjab)
- Imad Wasim (Northern)
- Mohammad Hafeez (Central Punjab)
- Mohammad Nawaz (Northern)
- Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)
- Mohammad Wasim Jr (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)
- Sarfaraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper, Sindh)
- Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)
- Sohaib Maqsood (Southern Punjab)
The traveling reserves in the squad are Khushdil Shah of Southern Punjab, Shahnawaz Dahani of Sindh, and Usman Qadir of Central Punjab.
World Cup Schedule
- Oct 24: Pakistan v India, Group 2, Dubai International Cricket Stadium
- Oct 26: Pakistan v New Zealand, Group 2, Sharjah Cricket Stadium
- Oct 29: Pakistan v Afghanistan, Group 2, Dubai International Cricket Stadium
- Nov 2: Pakistan v A2, Group 2, Sheikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi
- Nov 7: Pakistan v B1, Group 2, Sharjah Cricket Stadium