Sports

Pakistan squad for New Zealand T20s laden with potential ‘back-ups’

Pakistan’s national cricket team is set to begin their build-up to the 2024 T20 World Cup by playing a series from January 12-21. The tournament will be held in the United States and the West Indies. Shaheen Shah Afridi will lead the team in his first T20I captaincy. The team announced a 17-member roster on Tuesday, including players who have performed exceptionally well in the domestic circuit and the HBL Pakistan Super League over the last two to three years.

Chief selector Wahab Riaz, accompanied by consultant member Kamran Akmal, told reporters during a press conference held at the Gaddafi Stadium that Pakistan has struggled with backups in recent years. Keeping the T20 World Cup in mind, the selectors want to test some of the players and see where they stand.

Wicket-keepers Azam Khan and Haseebullah Khan and batter Sahibzada Farhan have been rewarded for their impactful performances in the recently concluded National T20 Cup and the last season of the PSL. They will give direct competition to Pakistan’s opening mainstays, Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam, who have an impressive record in the format but have come under fire numerous times for their approach towards T20 batting.

Rizwan and former skipper Babar will still get chances to prove their mettle in the New Zealand series. However, Shadab Khan will miss out on the series due to an ankle injury, and leg-spinner Usama Mir will be in the position to capitalize on his absence. The all-rounder, however, remains in Pakistan’s long-term T20 plans.

Abrar Ahmed adds to the spin bowling options along with all-rounders Iftikhar Ahmed and Mohammad Nawaz — both seasoned members of the Pakistan T20 team. With their pace battery depleted by the unavailability of Naseem Shah and a number of back-ups in Mohammad Hasnain and Ihsanullah, the Pakistan selectors opted to call up Abbas Afridi, the highest wicket-taker in the last edition of the PSL. The right arm will add variation to his faster colleagues in Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jr., and Zaman Khan under attack leader and skipper Shaheen. Aamer Jamal, who picked up a five-wicket haul against Australia in the recently concluded first Test, has also been called up as a fast-bowling all-rounder option.

The inclusion of Azam and Haseebullah in the squad saw Mohammad Haris lose his place for no clear reason. The selectors clarified that Haris was only “rested.”

The New Zealand tour will be preceded by a six-day training camp at the National Cricket Academy from Dec. 28 to Jan. 3. As many as nine players other than the ones named in the squad have been invited to attend the camp, including Ahmed Shehzad, who recently expressed sadness for not being picked by any of the PSL sides in the draft for the upcoming season.

The selectors are confident that the inexperienced squad will pose a tough challenge to the New Zealanders. The selectors believe that this tour will boost the players’ confidence and eventually allow them to play better cricket. Pakistan’s national cricket team is set to begin their build-up to the 2024 T20 World Cup by playing a series from January 12-21. The tournament will be held in the United States and the West Indies. Shaheen Shah Afridi will lead the team in his first T20I captaincy. The team announced a 17-member roster on Tuesday, including players who have performed exceptionally well in the domestic circuit and the HBL Pakistan Super League over the last two to three years.

Chief selector Wahab Riaz, accompanied by consultant member Kamran Akmal, told reporters during a press conference held at the Gaddafi Stadium that Pakistan has struggled with backups in recent years. Keeping the T20 World Cup in mind, the selectors want to test some of the players and see where they stand.

Wicket-keepers Azam Khan and Haseebullah Khan and batter Sahibzada Farhan have been rewarded for their impactful performances in the recently concluded National T20 Cup and the last season of the PSL. They will give direct competition to Pakistan’s opening mainstays, Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam, who have an impressive record in the format but have come under fire numerous times for their approach towards T20 batting.

Rizwan and former skipper Babar will still get chances to prove their mettle in the New Zealand series. However, Shadab Khan will miss out on the series due to an ankle injury, and leg-spinner Usama Mir will be in the position to capitalize on his absence. The all-rounder, however, remains in Pakistan’s long-term T20 plans.

Abrar Ahmed adds to the spin bowling options along with all-rounders Iftikhar Ahmed and Mohammad Nawaz — both seasoned members of the Pakistan T20 team. With their pace battery depleted by the unavailability of Naseem Shah and a number of back-ups in Mohammad Hasnain and Ihsanullah, the Pakistan selectors opted to call up Abbas Afridi, the highest wicket-taker in the last edition of the PSL. The right arm will add variation to his faster colleagues in Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jr., and Zaman Khan under attack leader and skipper Shaheen. Aamer Jamal, who picked up a five-wicket haul against Australia in the recently concluded first Test, has also been called up as a fast-bowling all-rounder option.

The inclusion of Azam and Haseebullah in the squad saw Mohammad Haris lose his place for no clear reason. The selectors clarified that Haris was only “rested.”

The New Zealand tour will be preceded by a six-day training camp at the National Cricket Academy from Dec. 28 to Jan. 3. As many as nine players other than the ones named in the squad have been invited to attend the camp, including Ahmed Shehzad, who recently expressed sadness for not being picked by any of the PSL sides in the draft for the upcoming season.

The selectors are confident that the inexperienced squad will pose a tough challenge to the New Zealanders. The selectors believe that this tour will boost the players’ confidence and eventually allow them to play better cricket.

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