LAHORE: The trio of senior players including former captains Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik plus fast bowler Mohammad Amir were left out while uncapped players Abdullah Shafiq and Usman Qadir along with youngsters Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Musa Khan and Zafar Gohar were named by Pakistan selectors in a 22-member squad announced on Monday for the forthcoming limited-overs home series against Zimbabwe.
Pakistan face Zimbabwe in three One-day Internationals — all matches being staged in Rawalpindi from Oct 30 — followed by as many T20 Internationals in Lahore from Nov 7 to 10.
Leg-spinner Shadab Khan has been appointed as vice-captain in both ODI and T20 formats. Besides two uncapped and three inexperienced players, the rest of the 17 squad members are experienced as chief selector-cum-head coach Misbah-ul-Haq decided not to take the visiting Zimbabweans easy and picked a number of experienced campaigners.
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Misbah must have kept in view the importance of ODI cricket, as only top seven teams of the ICC one-day rankings will qualify for the 2023 World Cup. Pakistan currently hold the sixth place.
The 20-year-old Abdullah, who hails from Sialkot, made a century on T20 debut to help Central Punjab pull off a remarkable chase of 201 against Southern Punjab. He finished the tournament with 358 runs in 10 innings at a healthy average of 44.75 besides maintaining the strike rate of 133. These include two half-centuries and a century. Abdullah made a century also in his only first-class appearance so far, making him the first Pakistani and second in the entire cricketing history to hit debut hundreds in both first-class and T20 cricket.
“Seniors like Shoaib, Sarfaraz and Amir are the notable absentees in this list and that is mainly because we want to give youngsters a chance. Having all of them in the squad makes it tough to play youngsters, and their absence will provide players like Abdullah Shafiq, Haider Ali and Khushdil Shah better chances of featuring in the upcoming matches [against Zimbabwe].”
Zimbabwe’s tour of Pakistan begins when their 32-man squad arrives in Islamabad on Tuesday. The tourists will then undergo an isolation period from Oct 21 to 27 before they start training at the Pindi Cricket Stadium from Oct 28.
Squad: Babar Azam, Haider Ali, Abdullah Shafiq, Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Abid Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Rohail Nazir, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain, Haris Rauf, Musa Khan, Wahab Riaz, Usman Qadir, Zafar Gohar.