KARACHI: There were calls for heads to roll following Pakistan’s disastrous exit from the Asia Cup but national selectors ignored all such calls and showed faith in players who misfired in the Asia Cup. The selectors retained them in the 15-man squad for the World Cup to be held in October and November in India. Babar Azam was retained as captain.
The only change in the squad was the inclusion of pacer Hasan Ali, who has replaced injured fast bowler Naseem Shah. The pace spearhead was ruled out of the World Cup because of a shoulder injury he suffered in the World Cup. Hasan, who played a key role in Pakistan’s title-winning triumph in the ICC Champions Trophy in England in 2017, was out of favour for quite some time due to lack of form and fitness. He last played an ODI for Pakistan in June 2022.
Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said that changes weren’t made to the squad as the current bunch had performed “wonderfully well” in the last couple of years.
“World Cup is the most important event in any cricketer’s life and I want to congratulate all the cricketers who have made it to the squad through their impressive performances. This team has performed wonderfully well over the last couple of years and that is why we have shown faith in the same bunch,” he said.
“We were forced to make one change because of an unfortunate injury to Naseem Shah. We had a few injury scares in the recent Asia Cup, but I am glad to share that all the players are fully fit and are eager to perform for their country in the all-important tournament. I have received encouraging reports from our medical panel about Haris Rauf. He has started to (shadow) bowl at the National Cricket Academy and will be available for selection.
“I have a firm belief that this squad can bring the World Cup trophy to Pakistan and make the whole nation proud with their incredible performances. It is time to get behind our team and provide them with the backing and support they need.”
There was some drama on the eve of team’s announcement as former Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez resigned from the PCB technical committee following a meeting, which was held to discuss the team combination for the World Cup. Apparently, Hafeez wasn’t pleased after the suggestions he floated during the meeting were ignored.
AFP adds: Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Haris were axed from the squad that crashed out of the Asia Cup this month at the Super Four stage after defeats to India and Sri Lanka.
Opener Fakhar Zaman scored 65 runs in four innings in the Asia Cup but kept his place in the World Cup squad.
There were questions about leg-spinning allrounder Shadab Khan as well, after he managed six wickets in his last five ODIs. However, he also made the cut and retained the vice-captaincy of the team.
Babar Azam will again captain Pakistan, who begin their World Cup campaign against the Netherlands in Hyderabad on October 6.
Four days later they play Sri Lanka at the same venue, followed by a high-voltage clash against arch-rivals India in Ahmedabad on October 14.
Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Salman Ali Agha, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Travelling reserves: Zaman Khan, Abrar Ahmed, Mohammad Haris.