SOUTHAMPTON: Teenaged pace sensation Naseem Shah and young batsman Haider Ali were named in the shortlisted 17-man Pakistan squad named on Friday for the upcoming three-match Twenty20 International series against England.
The 17-year-old Naseem has been a regular feature in Test cricket since making his debut against Australia last November, while 19-year-old Haider has been included by chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq after his highly impressive debut in the aborted Pakistan Super League earlier this year.
The squad, led by Babar Azam will face Eoin Morgan’s England side at Old Trafford in Manchester on Aug 28, 30 and Sept 1.
Former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has also been inducted in the squad alongside experienced quartet of Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Hafeez. The wicket-keeper/batsman hasn’t played any international since the 3-0 defeat at home to Sri Lanka last October — a result which cost him the captaincy of all three formats.
Sarfaraz’s successor behind the stumps Mohammad Rizwan, who has been in excellent form both with the gloves as well as the bat in the ongoing Test series against Joe Root’s England team, is also in the T20 team.
Giving his input on the selections, Misbah said: “This is mostly the same team which has been featuring in the shortest format for us. Besides retaining the core, we have inducted youngsters like Haider Ali, who has performed well in the PSL, Pakistan Under-19 and first-class levels.
“Naseem Shah has been selected as we had an opportunity to keep a bigger pool due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, because like the Test matches, the T20 fixtures will be played in the bubble.
“While including both Naseem and Haider has allowed us more options, we’ll be counting on two of the most experienced bowlers in Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz along with Fakhar Zaman and Sarfaraz Ahmed.”
Misbah further commented that because of the unusual circumstances due to the Covid-19 with Pakistan carrying an extended squad to England from the end of June, the T20 squad members have had extensive opportunities to stay fit.
“Usually, the T20 team travels together for a brief period but due to the current situation most of the players have been here with us for more than two months. It has provided us a good opportunity to work on the development of the team and young players. So, even the players who might not get an opportunity to play will benefit from the experience they are getting here,” the ex-Pakistan captain, who is also the head coach, said. “It is going to be a competitive series as England are a strong side and cannot be taken lightly. We are looking forward to play good cricket.”
Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz.
Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2020