Shahdab Khan and Muhammad Haris dropped from squad; Azam Khan returns to team, announces Wahab Riaz
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday announced the squad for the upcoming T20 series against New Zealand, which is scheduled to take place in January next year.
Pacer Shaheen Afridi will lead the T20I side for the first time after taking over from Babar Azam.
The 17-member squad also includes youngsters Abbas Afridi, Saim Ayub, Haseebullah Khan and Sahibzada Farhan.
Destructive batter Azam Khan is also part of the squad, along with the likes of Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.
The Pakistan cricket team is currently in Australia to play a three-match Test series in the ongoing World Test Championship (WTC) 2023-25 cycle which will conclude on January 7.
Shaheen — who is considered one of the finest bowlers in the world, especially with the new ball — will have his first assignment as the captain against the runner-ups of the 2021 T20 World Cup.
Riaz, while speaking during the press conference, said: “Haseebullah played some impactful innings in the PSL in the middle-order and has performed a lot in white-ball cricket. He opens in domestic cricket but for team adjustment, we need to develop players for numbers 4-7.”
“Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Shoaib Malik, Faheem Ashraf were given chances but they couldn’t create that type of impact, so now we’re in a building phase to see which players can fit into these positions.”
Riaz also opened up the exclusion of wicketkeeper Mohammad Haris and injury to all-rounder Shadab Khan.
“We have rested Mohammad Haris for this series. We know his capability and he is part of our plans going forward. There were some domestic performers in First Class cricket who we wanted to give a chance and increase our pool of players, so we rested Haris from this tour,” he said.
“Shadab Khan is a very important member of Pakistan T20 cricket. Unfortunately he suffered an ankle injury [during the National T20] and requires two further weeks of rehab. After that, he’ll be available to bowl.”
Shaheen Afridi (c), Aamir Jamal, Abbas Afridi, Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan (wk), Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haseebullah (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mojammad Wasim Jnr, Sahibzada Farhan, Saim Ayub, Usama Mir, Zaman Khan.
Schedule of Pakistan’s 2024 tour to New Zealand
First match: New Zealand vs Pakistan, 12 January, Auckland
Second match: New Zealand vs Pakistan, 14 January, Hamilton
Third match: New Zealand vs Pakistan, 17 January, Dunedin
Fourth match: New Zealand vs Pakistan, 19 January, Christchurch
Fifth match: New Zealand vs Pakistan, 21 January, Christchurch.
More to follow…