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Pakistan announces 15-player squad for T20 World Cup

The same side will face New Zealand and England. Source: Cricinfo

LAHORE: Pakistan has named a 15-player squad for the upcoming Twenty20 Internationals against New Zealand and England and ICC T20 World Cup being held in UAE and Oman.

The seven home T20Is in Lahore and Rawalpindi will be played from 25 September to 14 October, while Pakistan will proceed to take on India in a battle of former champions in their ICC T20 World Cup opener in Dubai on 24 October. Domestic performers Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah have been drafted into the side to provide more firepower in the middle-order.

From the 19 players who were part of the Pakistan squad for the T20I series in England and West Indies, Arshad Iqbal, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Sharjeel Khan and Usman Qadir have been left out, though Fakhar and Usman along with Shahnawaz Dahani have been named as the three traveling reserves.

The 15-player squad includes five batsmen (Asif Ali, Babar Azam, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez and Sohaib Maqsood), two wicketkeeper-batters (Azam Khan and Mohammad Rizwan), four all-rounders (Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim Jnr and Shadab Khan) and four fast bowlers (Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain, and Shaheen Shah Afridi).

Chief Selector Muhammad Wasim said have tried to cover all our bases by catering for the modern-day brand of T20 cricket that will be required to perform impressively in the T20 World Cup.

“Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah may not have impressive numbers against their names but hardly anyone can doubt their tremendous talent and prowess. They are the best in the available pool of middle-order batsmen and we remain confident that they will provide us solutions to our middle-order difficulties through solid performances,” he said in a statement.

“These two experienced middle-order batters will compliment Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan and Shoaib Maqsood, while in Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan, we have three top-quality spinners who are equally good with the bat and outstanding in the field.

“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. Mohammad Wasim Junior has been preferred over Faheem Ashraf due to his pace and ability to hit big shots. Wasim will bolster the fast bowling unit, which comprises Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain and Shaheen Shah Afridi.

“Fakhar Zaman, Shahnawaz Dahani and Usman Qadir were unlucky to miss out on the selections. Sohaib Maqsood’s ability to bat and perform anywhere in the top-order has given him an edge over Fakhar, while the presence of three experienced spinners, who are also capable batters, and five genuine wicket-taking fast bowlers made it difficult for Usman Qadir to get into the side. Like Faheem, an uncapped Shahnawaz was tied with Mohammad Wasim Junior, but we opted for the latter due to his pace and batting abilities.”

He said the home series against New Zealand and England will provide one last opportunity for their preparations.