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April 19, 2019

Pakistan axe Amir, pick young Hasnain in World Cup squad


April 19, 2019

KARACHI: Pakistan on Thursday named their 15-man squad for this summer’s ICC World Cup in England, showing a near complete dependence on the players who helped them win the Champions Trophy two years ago.

However, Mohammad Amir – one of the heroes of Pakistan’s memorable 180-run triumph against India in the Champions Trophy final at The Oval – was left out because of indifferent form.

The national selectors were kinder towards the likes of senior duo Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik and the injured Imad Wasim as they picked all three in the touring party despite big question marks hanging over their form and fitness. Hafeez’s selection is subject to fitness while Malik has been picked with the hopes that the veteran all-rounder will somehow regain his lost form in England which will host World Cup 2019 from May 30-July 14.

Teenage fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain and prolific batsman Abid Ali were the only new faces in the squad which includes 11 players from the team that triumphed in the 2017 Champions Trophy.

In selecting a combination of three openers, four middle-order batsmen, a wicketkeeper-batsman, two spinners and five pacers, Pakistan have tried to play it safe with chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq declaring that all bases have been covered.

In the days leading up to the squad’s announcement, the biggest talking point was whether Amir will make it in the line-up. The selectors opted to axe him but have also kept the door ajar for him by selecting him and batsman Mohammad Asif for next month’s pre-World Cup series against England. This effectively means that the two players will serve as reserves for the World Cup squad and, if required, can be drafted into the line-up until May 23 without ICC permission.

Players retained from the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 winning team include: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan and Shoaib Malik.

The other four players are Abid Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hasnain and Shaheen Afridi. Imam and Shaheen have featured in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2014 and 2018, respectively. The 19-year-old Hasnain is completely raw having made his presence felt at the PSL season earlier this year.

The England-bound players will hold training sessions at the Gaddafi Stadium on April 20 and 21, before departing for London in the wee hours of April 23. They will play two Twenty Internationals and five ODI matches against England before beginning their World Cup campaign with a match against the West Indies at Trent Bridge on May 31.

Pakistan squad: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez (subject to fitness), Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain and wk), Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hasnain and Haris Sohail.

Additions for England series: Mohammad Amir and Asif Ali.

Pakistan’s schedule of matches in England

Series v England

27 April – v Kent (50-over practice match) (d)

29 April – v Northamptonshire (50-over match) (d)

1 May – v Leicestershire (T20 match) (d/n)

5 May – v England (only T20I), Cardiff (d)

8 May – 1st ODI v England, The Oval (d/n)

11 May – 2nd ODI v England, Hampshire (d)

14 May – 3rd ODI v England, Bristol (d/n)

17 May – 4th ODI v England, Trent Bridge (d/n)

19 May – 5th ODI v England, Leeds (d)

ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 schedule

24 May – v Afghanistan (warm-up), Bristol (d)

26 May – v Bangladesh (warm-up), Cardiff (d)

31 May – v Windies, Trent Bridge (d)

3 June – v England, Trent Bridge (d)

7 June – v Sri Lanka, Bristol (d)

12 June – v Australia, Taunton (d)

16 June – v India, Old Trafford (d)

23 June – v South Africa, Lord’s (d)

26 June – v New Zealand, Edgbaston (d)

29 June – v Afghanistan, Headingley (d)

5 July – v Bangladesh, Lord’s (d/n)