Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah have both been included in Pakistan’s T20I squad for the upcoming home series against New Zealand and England, as well as the 2021 T20 World Cup which begins in October. Both players had been left out from the team in April this year but earned their places back because they are seen as “trusted options” by the PCB for the bigger tournaments like the T20 World Cup.
In a surprising move, though, opening batter Sharjeel Khan was left out of the 15-man squad completely, and was even ignored from the traveling reserves. His exclusion is believed to be in some part due to the influence of incoming PCB chairman Ramiz Raja and his intent to keep players tainted with corruption out of the side. Sharjeel’s disappointing performances since his comeback in March has made the decision easier for the selectors to drop him. Sohaib Maqsood, who has been retained in the squad, is likely to fill in the top-order role left by Sharjeel.
The selectors have also dropped allrounder Faheem Ashraf, instead taking Usman Qadir, Shanawaz Dahani and Fakhar Zaman as travelling reserves. Pakistan has till October 15 to make any changes to their 15-man squad.
Pakistan’s T20I matches will begin on September 25 with a five-match series against New Zealand, in Lahore. This will be followed by two home matches against England in Rawalpindi, on October 13 and 14. Pakistan will then go to the UAE to begin their T20 World Cup campaign, with the big clash against India in the Super 12 phase, on October 24.
“We have tried different combinations, identified different areas and found final options for the best selection,” PCB chief selector Mohammad Wasim said while announcing the squad in a press conference on Monday. “There were things required but had been missing and now you will see the difference as we tried to cover all the bases especially considering the conditions in UAE where we are carrying an advantage.
“We are very much familiar with the conditions and have a good T20 record so taking every aspect in account including the opponents we have combined this team. The team has a tendency required for modern-day cricket, a brand we often talk about. We tried to load specialist players for the role. So we are quite hopeful that with all the preparation our team will play outstanding and perform.”
“We tried different batters in the middle but we didn’t get performances,” Wasim said when asked what made him recall two players who didn’t have the performances to back it up.
“I do agree they [Asif and Khusdil] didn’t perform (since they were dropped) but then none of the other made their case as well. So we figured out which player we can lay our confidence in, who can do well under pressure and can perform in those conditions against the bowling line-ups expected in the UAE. They are the best options we have with the left and right combination in the middle. Asif Ali is still the best striker of the ball in Pakistan. I believe he can do well in pressure handling and will do well in the tournament. We considered a lot of players but we have our trust in them as compared to others.”
Avishkar Govardhane is a Sports Editor and enthusiast, working here at Clout News covering the latest Cricket News.