Pakistan cricket team chief selector Misbahul Haq on Saturday announced a 16-member squad for the three one-day international (ODI) matches against Sri Lanka, set to commence on September 27 in Karachi.
The side includes Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hasnain, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Usman Shinwari and Wahab Riaz.
Two forced changes had to be made after fast bowlers Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali were ruled out due to illness and injury respectively. Afridi is down with dengue fever while Hasan was ruled out because of back spasm.
“Hassan was originally part of the squad but he felt a back spasm yesterday. According to the physiotherapist, he cannot be a part of the team right now. Let’s see how soon he can get fit,” explained Misbah as he announced the names during a press conference.
Abid Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari and Mohammad Hasnain have all earned recalls.
The 29-year-old Iftikhar played just two ODIs against England in 2015 before he had been sidelined mainly because of the presence of two more all-rounders Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik in the team.
Malik retired from one-day internationals after the World Cup in July while Hafeez has received permission to skip the series against Sri Lanka from the Pakistan Cricket Board to play in the Caribbean Premier League.
Nawaz, who also bowls left-arm spin, has impressed selectors with his form in the domestic one-day tournament Pakistan Cup and has been recalled after an year.
Opening batsman Fakhar Zaman has retained his place in the squad despite the left-hander’s poor show with the bat during the World Cup.
“No doubt his (Fakhar) performance has gone down, but still his average is around 47 in ODIs,” Misbah said.
“He’s an impact player. He is such a player that if he plays 10 overs, you have a chance to win the match. Instead of wasting him, we should see how we can utilise him in the future.”
Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan, who scored two centuries in the United Arab Emirates against Australia, also made a comeback after being ignored for the World Cup.
Misbah said captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and Rizwan have different roles and Rizwan could be in the playing eleven as a fielder.
“If someone has scored two hundreds at No. 4 you have to give him a chance,” Misbah said.
“You have added advantage of having two wicketkeepers, fitness wise he is very good … we are trying to encourage such players and we will try to give them matches whenever we have a chance.”
Sri Lanka has already announced two squads for the three one-day internationals and the three T20 matches. Ten senior players opted out of the tour citing security concerns.
Pakistan’s squad for the three T20Is against Sri Lanka in Lahore will be announced during the one-day series. Until then, the other players in the probables camp will continue to train at the NCA.
“After thorough discussions with the members of the selection committee and meticulous planning, I feel we have put together the best possible squad,” said the chief selector.
“These are the only 50-over matches we play this season and we want to make their optimum use. Over the course of my cricketing career, I have realised there are no easy games and there are no easy opponents in cricket.”
The ODI series will conclude on October 2 and will be followed by three Twenty20s at Lahore in between October 5-9.
ODI match schedule:
- 1st ODI: Karachi, September 27
- 2nd ODI: Karachi, September 29
- 3rd ODI: Karachi, October 2
- 1st T20: Lahore, October 5
- 2nd T20: Lahore, October 7
- 3rd T20: Lahore, October 9