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April 7, 2021

Pakistan set to retain Fakhar in T20 squad for African Safari

Sports

April 7, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Power-hitter Fakhar Zaman is most likely to be retained for back-to-back T20 series in South Africa as head coach Misbahul Haq and skipper Babar Azam reposed their full confidence in the opener’s worth for the shortest version of the game in special context with the World Cup to be held in India after six months.

‘The News’ has learnt that a request to retain him for the T20 series was sent to the selection committee and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) back home considering Fakhar’s form and utility for the T20 series.

A well-placed source in the PCB told ‘The News’ that Fakhar, who was side-lined by the selection committee headed by Mohammad Wasim, will stay back for the four-match T20 series against South Africa and later for the three matches to be played in Zimbabwe.

“Head coach Misbah and captain Babar want to retain him for the seven T20 matches that Pakistan are to play during the African Safari. Following his heroics at the Wanderers that saw Fakhar playing one of the finest innings in the ODI cricket, questions were raised as to why such a powerful hitter was sidelined from the T20 series. Even Misbah and Babar spoke highly of him and his utility for the forthcoming series that will serve as a stepping stone in team’s preparations for the T20 World Cup,” the source said.

Fakhar smashed ten sixes and 18 fours to pace-bowlers packed South Africa attack on Wanderers pitch that offered help to the bowlers.

“Besides retaining Fakhar for the seven-match series, both captain and the head coach are interested in keeping him on top of their priority list for the T20 World Cup to be held in India in October-November,” a team official in South Africa said.

Fakhar took the battle single-handedly to the South Africa bowlers, scoring over 60 percent of the total runs by Pakistan during the second ODI.

“Even in South Africa, it was surprising for everyone that a batsman like Fakhar was not made part of the team for the T20 series. South Africa coach Mark Boucher and all other South Africa team members even went on to congratulate Fakhar for his outstanding innings,” the official added.

Both Misbah and Babar were of the opinion that the form and striking ability of Fakhar would be of great help to the team in the T20 series.

“We have received a go-ahead to retain Fakhar for the back-to-back T20 series. His role in the T20 matches will be very important for the team.”

The official announcement to make Fakhar part of the T20 squad is expected to be made very soon.

Meanwhile, injured Shadab Khan who has failed miserably as a bowler and batsman during the ongoing series is expected to return home along with Imamul Haq.

“It would be useless to retain injured player in the team and take him to Zimbabwe knowing that he cannot play anymore during the tour. The decision to send Shadab back home will be made soon.”