KARACHI: Mohammad Hafeez’s international career seemed to be over on Tuesday when national selectors overlooked him for this month’s Asia Cup in the UAE.
The former Pakistan captain was in the provisional 18-man squad for the six-nation tournament but failed to make it in the 16-man touring party with chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq stressing that there was “no compromise” on fitness while finalising the national team.
The snub could be the final straw for Hafeez, who was desperate to retain a place in Pakistan’s 50-over plans considering that the all-important 2019 World Cup, to be held in England, is now just months away.
Hafeez, who turns 38 next month, has been in hot waters for quite some mainly because of his suspect bowling action and below-par form. He was picked for the limited-over matches in Zimbabwe earlier this season but Pakistan opted against fielding him in any of the five One-day Internationals. He did play in two Twenty20 Internationals but flopped in both of them scoring seven and zero.
Having dropped him from the Asia Cup squad, Pakistan’s think-tank has given a clear message that they have decided against keeping Hafeez in their World Cup plans.“We conducted fitness tests and since there is no compromise on fitness we have not included Hafeez and Imad Wasim,” Inzamam told reporters after announcing the squad.
Also failing to earn the selectors’ nod for the Asia Cup which gets underway in the UAE from September 15 was all-rounder Imad Wasim.The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced on Tuesday that Sarfraz Ahmed will lead the national side in the Asia Cup where Pakistan will play the big match against old rivals India on September 19 in Dubai.
Apart from Hafeez and Imad, Pakistan have also opted against picking seasoned leggie Yasir Shah, who failed to impress in the series against Zimbabwe returning with figures of 1/10 and 0/31 in the two ODIs he played there.
In a bid to beef up the pace attack, the selectors have brought in 18-year-old fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi. Shaheen, Pakistan’s highest wicket-taker in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup 2018 in New Zealand, seems set to make his ODI debut in the UAE later this month.
And opening batsman Shan Masood has finally earned his first ODI call-up after scoring heavily in List-A match in recent times.Shan, 28, has played 12 Tests but is yet to make his ODI debut. He should do that in the Asia Cup after having scored three centuries and five half-centuries in his last 10 innings in List-A matches.
Apart from that there weren’t any more changes in the ODI squad. Opener Fakhar Zaman is at the top of the batting lineup that includes Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz.
Mohammad Amir spearheads the pace attack that includes Hasan Ali, Usman Khan Shinwari, Junaid Khan and Afridi. Faheem Ashraf has been picked as the specialist all-rounder and Shadab Khan is the specialist spinner. Asif Ali has also been retained.
Pakistan, who are currently training in Lahore, will begin their title campaign in the Asia Cup against the winner of a qualifying tournament in Dubai on September 16. The Asia Cup will also feature India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Six teams — Hong Kong, Singapore, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Malaysia — are currently facing off in Kuala Lumpur to secure the final berth.
Squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan Shinwari and Shaheen Shah Afridi.