Pakistan look to youth to take on Zimbabwe in T20s


Pakistan have named a squad of 22 players for the two limited-overs series against Zimbabwe in late October and November.

Experienced internationals Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir, have been left out of the group that will take on Zimbabwe in three ODIs and three T20Is.

Misbah names 22-man training squad

The three ODIs will all take place at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium with match one scheduled for Friday 30 October.

Coach Misbah-ul-Haq says he will opt for experience in the 50-over matches but provide extended run to the youngsters in the T20I format.

Fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Naseem Shah were not considered for selection as they are recovering from injuries but have been encouraged to make themselves available for domestic cricket as soon as they are fit enough.

Abdullah Shafique is one of the youngsters to impress in the National T20 Cup which featured most of Pakistan’s top players playing alongside domestic stalwarts and exciting prospects.

Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq: “The National T20 Cup saw some outstanding individual performances.

“A few leading performers may feel disappointed that they have been unable to break into the squad.

“But, I want to reassure them that they will remain in consideration for the New Zealand tour and early next year’s home series. All they now need to do is to carry those impressive run of forms in the upcoming domestic competitions.

“Furthermore, the present T20I squad already comprises youngsters who have played very few matches. As such, it is logical and sensible that we give them the support and confidence by providing them extended runs so that they can show what they are capable of at the highest level and cement their places for future assignments.

“We have resisted the temptation of experimenting in the ODIs for three simple reasons. Firstly, we cannot afford to be complacent and have to respect each and every opponent irrespective of their strength or international ranking. Secondly, every ODI counts as it leads towards automatic qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, and thirdly, we have not played any ODI cricket in the past 12 months.

“Abdullah Shafiq has been rewarded for his tremendous potential and performance. He has been identified as a future prospect and, therefore, drafted into the squad as part of his development.

“Seniors like Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed have not been picked for this series, but I want to categorically state that their careers are not over by any means as performance remains the only criterion for selection. These are strategic decisions as Shoaib’s absence will provide players like Abdullah Shafiq, Haider Ali and Khushdil Shah better chances of featuring in the upcoming matches.

“We have followed the same philosophy while leaving out Mohammad Amir and Usman Shinwari so that bowlers like Mohammad Hasnain, Musa Khan and Haris Rauf can get an extended run.

“Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz provide us that useful experience in the batting and bowling respectively, that will benefit the youngsters.”

Former skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed has been urged to play first-class cricket in a bid to win back a place in the Test XIs. Misbah made it clear that after a great summer in England Mohammad Rizwan is now the number one keeper for Pakistan.

“Not many will disagree that on present form, Mohammad Rizwan is the first-choice wicketkeeper in both the white-ball formats. With an eye on future and as part of the succession plan, Rohail Nazir has been chosen as Rizwan’s back-up wicketkeeper. Instead of Sarfaraz sitting on the substitute bench, it makes sense that he plays in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy so that he retains his fitness and rediscovers form for the tour for the longer and more demanding tour of New Zealand,” Misbah concluded.

Pakistan limited-overs squad to face Zimbabwe

Babar Azam, Haider Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Imam ul Haq, Harris Sohail, Abid Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Rohail Nazir, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain, Haris Rauf, Musa Khan, Wahab Riaz, Usman Qadar, Zafar Gohar.