Imad, Amir back, Usman, Irfan get maiden call-ups

By Abdul Mohi Shah
April 10, 2024
Selection committee member and Senior Team Manager Wahab Riaz (centre), selection committee member and Batting Coach Mohammad Yousuf (right) and selection committee member Abdul Razzaq (left) are talking to media in Lahore on April 9, 2024. —Screengrab/ YouTube/Pakistan Cricket

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan cricket selectors have made their intentions clear on the team’s formation for the T20 World Cup by announcing a 17-member squad that does not include some of the key Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 performers. Instead room has been created for the return of Imad Wasim and Mohammad Aamir following a considerable gap.


Fast bowler Mohammad Ali (second highest wicket-taker in PSL 2024 ) and Sahibzada Farhan (leading scorer in domestic T20) have been kept as non-traveling reserves. The selection committee which includes Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzak and Asad Shafiq announced the squad for the series against New Zealand team that does not include their top 12 players.

“We have started narrowing our options for the World Cup T20. Barring Haris Rauf who is nursing an injury and will only be available for selection for the tour to England, all leading contenders are there on the team selected for the series against New Zealand. But one thing is clear we will rotate the playing XI and even the captain could well be asked to sit out for playing XI at any time.” On the question of vice-captain, Wahab said the committee was looking at different options. “By the time we embark on the tour abroad, we will have our new vice-captain.”

Amir returns to Pakistan following four years of absence during which he also announced his retirement from international cricket. Imad also came out of retirement following his exceptional PSL season with Islamabad United.

On a question about differences in the team following a change in captaincy, Wahab said there was no truth in that. “The team is united and they want to win the World Cup. Babar Azam is the right choice for captaincy as he wants to win the title for the country,” said Wahab, who was chief selector when Babar was removed from captaincy.

Meanwhile, uncapped middle-order batter Muhammad Irfan Khan and flamboyant opener Usman Khan have been named in the 17-player squad. The two highly talented players have earned the selectors’ nod following impressive performances in the HBL Pakistan Super League.

Irfan of Karachi Kings was adjudged the Emerging Player and Best Fielder of the HBL PSL 9 after scoring 171 runs at a strike rate of 140.16. Overall, the 21-year-old Mianwali-born Irfan has featured in 34 T20s in which he has scored 499 runs at a strike-rate of 135.96. Irfan represented Pakistan in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cups 2020 and 2022.

Usman of Multan Sultans smashed two centuries and two half-centuries in the event to help his side reach the final where they lost to Islamabad United in a last-ball thriller. In the HBL PSL 8, the 28-year-old Karachi-born right-hander had smashed a 36-ball century against Quetta Gladiators - the fastest century in the tournament’s history. Overall, Usman has featured in 36 T20s in which he has scored 1,207 runs at a strike-rate of 146.12.

“I am deeply honoured to have been selected in the Pakistan squad. Breaking into such a formidable team like Pakistan is a testament to the dedication and effort I have put into my game. Now, my focus is on seizing this opportunity and solidifying my position within the team.

“I am fully committed to continuing to work diligently and proving myself worthy of the trust placed in me by the captain and selectors,” Ifran Niazi said on his selection.

Usman said, “Being chosen to represent one’s country is the ultimate dream and goal for any athlete. Today, I am absolutely thrilled and filled with joy as the selectors have granted me the opportunity to be part of the upcoming series against New Zealand.

“This selection validates the relentless effort and dedication I have poured into my craft, and I am fully committed to upholding the high standards I have set for myself.” Pakistan squad for New Zealand T20Is:

Babar Azam (captain), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohmmad Amir, Muhammad Irfan Khan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usama Mir Usman Khan, Zaman Khan.