PCB names T20 squad for ICC World Cup, New Zealand series

LAHORE: Chief Selector Muhammad Waseem has announced Pakistan’s squad for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup, which is scheduled to take place from October 17. 

Waseem announced a 15-man squad, with three players selected as reserves. The same team will play the home series against New Zealand and England in the coming weeks. 

In his opening statement, the chief selector said that Pakistan had selected specialists as it was the requirement of modern cricketing standards. 

He said another aspect that the selection committee had kept in mind while picking the players was Pakistan’s previous record and the relative advantage it held on UAE pitches, compared to other teams. 

“Babar Azam will be the captian of the squad while Shadab Khan will be the vice-captain,” he said, adding that pinch hitters Asif Ali and Azam Khan have also been selected in the team. 

Fast-bowler Haris Rauf, Hassan Ali, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez and Mohammad Hasnain have also been selected, announced the chief selector. 

Muhammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Waseem Jr, Shaheen Afridi and Sohaib Maqsood have been selected for the team as well.

Former Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed has been dropped from the T20 squad, after he was also sidelined for the New Zealand ODI series. 

Left-handed opening batsman Fakhar Zaman, Shahnawaz Dahani and Usman Qadir have been included in the reserve players; category for the T20 World Cup squad.

Speaking on Haris Rauf’s inclusion, Waseem said he was one of the premium fast bowlers in Pakistan, adding that his bowling, especially in the death overs, had previously won Pakistan matches. 

However, he conceded Rauf hadn’t performed well in the last couple of matches but went on to say that his average was also impressive and that when the team formulates its strategy in the coming days, Rauf’s inclusion would make sense. 

‘Azam Khan selected as backup wicketkeeper’

When asked why Quetta Gladiators player Azam Khan had been named in the squad despite his dismal performance in England and poor fielding skills, Waseem said he was selected as the backup wicketkeeper for the upcoming series. 

“Mohammad Rizwan is our number one wicketkeeper and he will remain so,” said Waseem. 

He said Pakistan was in need of a batsman, in the middle-order, who had the skillset required for power hitting. The chief selector said if Azam Khan were to replace anyone in the squad, for any reason, his ability to strike boundaries had convinced the selectors to keep him in the team. 

‘We are confident Asif Ali will handle pressure better, perform well in the mega-event’

When asked why middle-order batsman Asif Ali had been selected in the team despite his lacklustre performances in the past couple of matches, Waseem said the management was confident he would be able to handle the pressure of a mega-event better. 

However, he admitted that Asif Ali’s performances over the past couple of matches he played, was not up to the mark. 

“However, it was time to take a decision and as far as our middle-order is concerned, his performance was not well, yes, but others too did not have strong performances to show for,” he said. 

He said Khushdil Shah and Asif Ali were also selected since it would make a good left-hand and right-hand combination. 

“We kept in mind all players and decided these two were the best to make the team,” he said. 

Pakistan can ‘definitely’ beat India, says Waseem

Speaking in response to a question, Waseem said Pakistan can “definitely” beat India, adding that the current Pakistan squad had one of the best bowling line-ups in the world. 

He said the team was aware it was facing India in its very first match of the tournament, adding that Pakistan was focused on making an impressive start to the World Cup. 

“We kept a few players in mind who can handle pressure better,” he said.

The 15-man squad

Babar Azam (captain, Central Punjab)

Shadab Khan (vice-captain, Northern)

Asif Ali (Northern)

Azam Khan (wicketkeeper, Southern Punjab)

Haris Rauf (Northern)

Hasan Ali (Central Punjab)

Imad Wasim (Northern)

Khushdil Shah (Southern Punjab)

Mohammad Hafeez (Central Punjab)

Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh)

Mohammad Nawaz (Northern)

Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)

Mohammad Wasim Jnr (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)

Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)

Sohaib Maqsood (Southern Punjab)

Traveling reserves – Fakhar Zaman (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Shahnawaz Dahani (Sindh) and Usman Qadir (Central Punjab)