Wednesday, February 1
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Pakistan announces 16-player squad for New Zealand ODIs

KARACHI:With one eye on this year’s 50-over ACC Asia Cup and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, the Pakistan men’s interim selection committee on Thursday named a 16-player squad for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League matches against New Zealand, which will be played here at the National Bank Cricket Arena on 9, 11 and 13 January.

Uncapped batter Tayyab Tahir and wrist spinner Usama Mir have been named in the squad after producing stellar performances in the Pakistan Cup, while Shan Masood and Haris Sohail have been recalled after missing out on ODI cricket since 2019 and 2020, respectively. Kamran Ghulam, who is part of the Test squad, has also been included in the ODI side for the first time.

Fast bowler Haris Rauf, who was injured during the first Test against England in Rawalpindi, has regained complete fitness and has been named in the line-up. However, Shaheen Shah Afridi, despite making good progress, has not been included as the selectors, in consultation with the medical panel, have decided to give him more time to reclaim complete fitness. He is expected to return to competitive cricket next month in the HBL Pakistan Super League 8.

Pakistan vice-captain Shadab Khan was not considered for selection after he suffered a fracture on his right index finger in Australia last week.

Pakistan’s ODI squad:

Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Salman Ali Agha, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood, Tayyab Tahir and Usama Mir

Shahid Afridi, Interim Chief Selector: “We had limited ODI cricket last year and this year, we are scheduled to play 11 ODIs before we participate in the ACC Asia Cup, followed by the World Cup in conditions that will be familiar to us. So, we aim to make optimum use of these 11 ODIs by providing opportunities to our consistent performers that will enable us to select the best available players for the two important tournaments.

“In this background, we have decided to recall experienced Haris Sohail and Shan Masood as we believe the two lads still have plenty to offer to Pakistan cricket. We have not only rewarded Tayyab Tahir and Usama Mir for their outstanding performances in our domestic events, they have also been identified as future prospects. These four players, along with Kamran Ghulam, have good knowledge of our conditions and have the talent and potential to excel at the highest level.

“Players who could not make in the ODI side will remain in contention as the objective from this series is want to have absolute clarity on the pool of players for international cricket in 2023. For this reason, outstanding domestic performers and senior players getting back to form and fitness are being given opportunities to showcase their performances. Workload management and separate squads for red and white-ball cricket is also under consideration, which will require a wider pool of players. I urge the players to continue to work hard and be ready for a call-up.

“I am pleased Fakhar Zaman and Haris Rauf have regained complete fitness and though we will miss Shadab Khan and Shaheen Shah Afridi in this series, their absence will provide Mohammad Wasim Junior, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani and Usama Mir to step up and demonstrate what they are actually capable of.”

Tayyab Tahir had a successful Pakistan Cup when he won the Player of the Final award for his match-winning 71. He was also adjudged the Best Batter of the Pakistan Cup after scoring 573 runs. Prior to the 50-over tournament, Tayyab had shown consistent form in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy by scoring 708 runs at an average of 59 with four centuries and a half-century.

Likewise, Usama Mir was named the best bowler of the Pakistan Cup after picking up 28 wickets, following his 10 wickets in four matches in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

Haris Sohail, whose 42nd and last ODI was against Zimbabwe in Rawalpindi in October 2020, has been recalled after scoring 129 runs in five Pakistan Cup matches. In the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the left-hander scored 453 runs at an average of 50.33 with a century and two half-centuries. Shan scored 111 runs with a half-century in five ODIs in his last appearance for Pakistan against Australia in the UAE in March 2019 The Southpaw has been a regular feature in Pakistan line-ups, across formats, since his T20I debut against England September-October.

Apart from injured Shadab Khan and Shaheen Shah Afridi, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris and Zahid Mehmood were also part of the side that last played an ODI series against the Netherlands in Rotterdam but have not been selected for next week’s series against New Zealand.