LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Monday announced a 15-member squad for T20 World Cup 2021.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Chief Selector Muhammad Wasim said Babar Azam will lead the side while Shadab Khan will be vice captain. Former skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed has been dropped, whereas Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah have booked the berth.
The 15-member squad includes five batters, two wicketkeeper-batters, four all-rounders and four fast bowlers; Fakhar Zaman, Usman Qadir and Shahnawaz Dahani named as traveling reserves. The same squad will play in the upcoming Twenty20 Internationals against New Zealand and England as well.
The seven home T20Is in Lahore and Rawalpindi will be played from 25 September to 14 October, while Pakistan will proceed to take on India in a battle of former champions in their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup opener in Dubai on 24 October.
Asif played his 29th and last T20I for Pakistan against Zimbabwe earlier in April and averages 16.38 with a strike-rate of 123.74, while his overall strike-rate in T20 cricket stands at 147. Khushdil Shah’s ninth and last T20I was against South Africa in Lahore earlier this year. The left-hander averages more than 21 and holds a strike-rate of 109.24, while his overall T20 strike-rate stands at 134.
From the 19 players who were part of the Pakistan squad for the T20I series in England and the West Indies, Arshad Iqbal, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Sharjeel Khan and Usman Qadir have been left out.
The 15-player squad includes five batters (Asif Ali, Babar Azam, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez and Sohaib Maqsood), two wicketkeeper-batters (Azam Khan and Mohammad Rizwan), four all-rounders (Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim Jnr and Shadab Khan) and four fast bowlers (Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain and Shaheen Shah Afridi).
Justifying the selection, Muhammad Wasim said: “Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah may not have impressive numbers against their names but hardly anyone can doubt their tremendous talent and prowess. They are the best in the available pool of middle-order batsmen and we remain confident that they will provide us solutions to our middle-order difficulties through solid performances.
“These two experienced middle-order batters will compliment Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan and Shoaib Maqsood, while in Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan, we have three top-quality spinners who are equally good with the bat and outstanding in the field.
“Azam Khan is an aggressive and attacking batter who also keeps wickets, a combination that has earned him the selectors’ nod ahead of Sarfaraz Ahmed. Mohammad Wasim Junior has been preferred over Faheem Ashraf due to his pace and ability to hit big shots. Wasim will bolster the fast bowling unit, which comprises Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain and Shaheen Shah Afridi.”