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September 22, 2019

Hafeez left out of Pakistan squad in landmark SL tour


September 22, 2019

LAHORE: Pakistan on Saturday left out veteran batsman Mohammad Hafeez for next week’s series start against Sri Lanka, who are touring the country for the first time since they were targeted in a terror attack.

Hafeez, 38, was part of Pakistan’s fifth-placed World Cup squad but has been kept off due to his commitments in the Caribbean Premier League, said head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq. “He is not out of our plans,” added Misbah. “Whoever is effective for the team will be included in the future.”

Fellow World Cup team members Hasan Ali and fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi have also been left out due to poor fitness. Sarfraz Ahmed will lead the team in both the one-day and T20 matches. Middle order batsman Iftikhar Ahmed was recalled to the one-day squad after a four year absence.

Cricket tours were suspended in Pakistan for six years after a 2009 assault on the Sri Lankan team bus that killed half a dozen police officers and wounded six members of the visiting team. Sri Lanka agreed to the current tour after a favourable security assessment. Three one-day internationals will be played in Karachi, the first on September 27. Another three Twenty20 matches will be played in Lahore in early October. “It is the most balanced squad picked from the best available lot of talented players and we have given recalls to certain players in order to give them a chance to prove their potential in the one day matches,” said Misbah.

The squad for the three T20Is against Sri Lanka in Lahore will be announced during the one-day series and till that time the other players in the probables camp will continue to train at the NCA, he said.

“Before finalising the squad we took into consideration the standing of every player and after thorough discussions with the members of the selection committee and meticulous planning, I feel we have put together the best possible squad.

“These are the only 50-over matches we have this season and we want to make optimum use of them. Over the course of my cricketing career, I have realised there are no easy games and there are no easy opponents in cricket,” he asserted.

He said the coming ODI series against Sri Lanka is very important to enhance the confidence of the team and a way forward to bring back international cricket to Pakistan. “But, a season-opening series is crucial for setting the tone.

“It is extremely important that we produce solid performances and have favourable results. It will build the confidence of our players and help in carrying the momentum Down Under,” said the chief selector.

Misbah justified the recalls saying. “The five boys, who have been recalled, were straightforward selections. Iftikhar Ahmed is a batsman who can also bowl off-spin, providing the captain with necessary bowling depth as Sri Lanka boasts a few left-handers in their ranks.

“Mohammad Nawaz has been performing well in domestic matches. Despite their strong performances, Mohammad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari and Abid Ali were unlucky to miss out the World Cup squad,” he added.

He said this is, however, a perfect opportunity for these players to prove their mettle in international cricket and cement their place in the one-day side by displaying their best in their respective departments of the game.

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