Sarfaraz dropped, Shahnawaz made part of 20-member squad for upcoming ODI NZ series
Statesman Report
LAHORE: Former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed failed to retain his spot in the national side as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced a 20-member squad for the three upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup Super League One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against New Zealand to be played in Rawalpindi later this month. Batsmen Haris Sohail, Salman Ali Agha and Sohaib Maqsood also failed to make the cut, according to a statement issued by the cricketing body on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the PCB included uncapped wicketkeeper Mohammad Haris, fast bowlers Mohammad Wasim and Shahnawaz Dahani, wrist-spinner Zahid Mahmood, and middle-order batsmen Iftikhar Ahmed and Khushdil Shah in the 20-member squad. The PCB noted that Iftikhar’s last international appearance had been against Zimbabwe in late 2020 while Khushdil’s sole international appearance in the format had also been in the same match. Chief Selector Mohammad Wasim said he knew that a few players would be “disappointed” at not being included. However, there was a busy cricket season ahead and there would be “ample opportunities down the line for everyone to put up strong performances and push their case for national selection”. Terming the series against New Zealand “extremely important” for Pakistan, as the Rawalpindi ODIs will count towards the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup qualification, Wasim said the PCB had tried to put together a “formidable and balanced unit”. “We have continued to ensure that we give opportunities to high-performing players while looking into the future so that we can develop a strong bench-strength,” the PCB statement quoted him as saying. The wrist-spinner had the temperament to perform in ODIs, Wasim added. While Mohammad Rizwan would remain the first choice for wicketkeeper, Mohammad Haris was included in place of Sarfaraz “not only to reward Haris for his outstanding domestic performances in the previous season but also to give him a taste and flair of international cricket along with its rigours and demands”, Wasim further said. The middle-order has remained a concern for the PCB, the chief selector said, adding, “after trying a few options, we have decided to give another run to Iftikhar and Khushdil.” Noting that the two players had sufficient domestic experience in the format, he said the PCB was “optimistic they will come good in home conditions”. Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (captain), Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imamul Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Saud Shakeel, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir and Zahid Mahmood. Pakistan will play three ODIs against New Zealand at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Sept 17, Sept 19, and Sept 21. Meanwhile, the Gaddafi Stadium will stage the five T20Is scheduled to take place from Sept 25 to Oct 3.