Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed have not been picked for the upcoming Zimbabwe series, said head coach and chief selector Misbahul Haq on Monday while announcing the names of 22 probables for the ODI and T20I series.
"I want to categorically state that their careers are not over by any means as performance remains the only criterion for selection. These are strategic decisions as Shoaib’s absence will provide players like Abdullah Shafiq, Haider Ali and Khushdil Shah better chances of featuring in the upcoming matches," Haq said, according to a press release by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
“We have followed the same philosophy while leaving out Mohammad Amir and Usman Shinwari so that bowlers like Mohammad Hasnain, Musa Khan and Haris Rauf can get an extended run. Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz provide us that useful experience in the batting and bowling, respectively, that will benefit the youngsters," he added.
A busy home season is lined up that will see Pakistan host Zimbabwe for an ODI and T20 series beginning Oct 30.
- Oct 20 – Zimbabwe arrival in Islamabad
- Oct 30 – 1st ODI, Multan
- Nov 1– 2nd ODI, Multan
- Nov 3 – 3rd ODI, Multan
- Nov 7 – 1st T20I, Rawalpindi
- Nov 8 – 2nd T20I, Rawalpindi
- Nov 10 – 3rd T20I, Rawalpindi
Pakistan have not played ODIs since the home series against Sri Lanka 12 months ago and the Rawalpindi matches will be part of ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League from which the seven top-ranked sides, apart from hosts India, will qualify directly for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, according to the press release.
For the Lahore T20Is, the selectors have preferred continuity and consistency, while acknowledging the just concluded National T20 Cup had provided some exciting talent, which will be considered for the Pakistan and Shaheens’ next month tour to New Zealand and early next year’s home T20Is.
Fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Naseem Shah were not considered for selection as they are recovering from injuries, "but have been advised to play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy to prove their fitness before they are considered for selection".
Haq, during Monday's announcement, said that the present T20I squad already comprises youngsters who have played very few matches. "As such, it is logical and sensible that we give them the support and confidence by providing them extended runs so that they can show what they are capable of at the highest level and cement their places for future assignments.
“We have resisted the temptation of experimenting in the ODIs for three simple reasons. Firstly, we cannot afford to be complacent and have to respect each and every opponent irrespective of their strength or international ranking.
"Secondly, every ODI counts as it leads towards automatic qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, and thirdly, we have not played any ODI cricket in the past 12 months," said the head coach.
“Abdullah Shafiq has been rewarded for his tremendous potential and performance. He has been identified as a future prospect and, therefore, drafted into the squad as part of his development."
Speaking about the wicketkeeper, he said Mohammad Rizwan was the first-choice in both the white-ball formats. "With an eye on future and as part of the succession plan, Rohail Nazir has been chosen as Rizwan’s back-up wicketkeeper. Instead of Sarfaraz sitting on the substitute bench, it makes sense that he plays in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy so that he retains his fitness and rediscovers form for the tour for the longer and more demanding tour of New Zealand.”
The probables will assemble in Lahore on October 21 for Covid-19 testing and after observing a five-day isolation period, during which they will play two 50-over matches at the Gaddafi Stadium, will travel to Rawalpindi on October 26.
The probables for three T20Is will be shortlisted after the ODIs and players unlikely to feature in them will be advised to play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy third round matches, which will commence from November 6, according to the press release.
Pakistan probables for ODIs and T20Is:
Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafiq, Abid Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Rohail Nazir, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz and Zafar Gohar