Amid the uncertainty surrounding Naseem Shah's — who suffered a shoulder injury in the Asia Cup match against India — availability for the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup 2023, the Pakistan cricket team has been left with a handful of pace options to replace the right-arm fast bowler in the mega event.
As per the press release issued by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the board's medical panel will decide on the fast bowler's return to cricket based on further assessments.
"The PCB's medical team has been monitoring the status of Naseem Shah’s shoulder injury [...] medical consultations with the experts are underway to provide the best possible care to Naseem," the press release said.
However, this is not the only fast-bowler injury haunting the PCB as Haris Rauf was also ruled out of the same match against India as a precautionary measure after complaining of discomfort in his oblique muscle.
Separately, fast bowler Ihsanullah was also dealing with an elbow injury and is unavailable for the next two months.
Also, Mohammad Hasnain is undergoing his rehabilitation from injury in England.
The 22-year-old made his debut against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup 2023, however, he was unable to bag a wicket in his six-over spell. He bowled an exceptional last over where he needed to defend 8 and there is a high chance, he could be the replacement of Naseem Shah in the 15-man squad.
Known for his slingy action, Zaman has not played 50-over cricket much but his death bowling puts him ahead. He only has played eight List A games where he has taken six wickets.
The 25-year-old was also called up as a backup for the Asia Cup but didn't become part of the squad officially. He also boasts a high chance of replacing Naseem since he bowls over 140 kph.
He has represented Pakistan twice in ODIs and has taken a sole wicket in his debut game against the West Indies in Multan. His List A record is also impressive, taking 56 wickets in 31 games.
Hassan Ali could be preferred ahead of the above-mentioned bowlers because of his international experience. The 29-year-old has 91 wickets in 60 ODIs. He was also the Player of the Tournament in Pakistan's 2017 Champions Trophy winning campaign and his batting also gives an edge from others.
Despite having options, Pakistan will surely miss Naseem Shah in the mega event since he has been an integral part of the side across formats since his comeback last year.
The ICC World Cup 2023 will take place in India with 10 teams fighting for the elusive title across 10 venues from October 5 to November 19, with the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad hosting the tournament opener and the final.
The Cricket World Cup will be played in a round-robin format with all teams playing against each other for a total of 45 league matches.
The top four teams will qualify for the semifinals, which will be held in Mumbai on November 15 and in Kolkata on November 16. The semi-finals and the final will have reserve days.
According to the tournament's regulations, all teams must finalise their 15-player squads prior to September 28, with any replacements after this date requiring approval from the ICC.
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