Uncapped Azam Khan included in T20I side as PCB announces squads for England, West Indies tours

Published June 4, 2021
Azam Khan of Quetta Gladiators plays a lofted shot during their PSL match against Islamabad United. — White Star/File
Azam Khan of Quetta Gladiators plays a lofted shot during their PSL match against Islamabad United. — White Star/File

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday named the squads for the upcoming tours of England and West Indies, recalling four experienced players and including uncapped Azam Khan.

"Quetta Gladiators’ Azam Khan, the 22-year-old hard-hitting batsman, is the new face in the T20I squad," the PCB said in a statement.

Middle-order batsman Haris Sohail has been named in the ODI side, while Imad Wasim has returned to bolster the T20I side. Fast bowlers Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah have returned to the Test side, the cricket board said.

According to the PCB, Pakistan will play three one-day internationals (ODIs) and as many T20Is in England from July 8 to July 20, before facing West Indies in five T20Is that will be followed by two Tests.

Yasir Shah's inclusion is subject to fitness as the wrist spinner is yet to fully recover from the knee injury that sidelined him from the Zimbabwe Tests.

"The selectors have retained leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood along with left-arm spinner Nauman Ali and off-spinner Sajid Khan for the Jamaica Tests. Uncapped Saud Shakeel has also reclaimed his spot after missing South Africa ODIs due to an injury. Salman Ali Agha, who has lost his Test spot, has been called-up for ODIs," the press release said.

Fakhar Zaman has maintained his place in the original squad after being drafted as an additional player for Zimbabwe T20Is following a "stellar performance" in South Africa, the statement added.

"We have remained consistent in our selection and kept the same core of cricketers who have been in the set-up for a while," PCB Chief Selector Muhammad Wasim said

He said it was an "extremely important and critical tour for Pakistan" as the team would be playing the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League ODIs against England as well as the T20Is against England and the West Indies as part of its preparations for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

He added the Jamaica Test would also count towards the ICC World Test Championship.

“We have tried our best to maintain winning combinations but at the same time recalled four experienced players and rewarded uncapped Azam Khan for his domestic performance, while also giving him the required confidence for the future challenges," he said.

He added that Abbas, Shah and Sohail had regained their form and reclaimed the required fitness standards while Wasim had been recalled for the T20 World Cup based on his "excellent record" in the UAE.

“The return of these four players meant we had to leave some players, which is never an easy decision. But we have collectively opted for what was in the best interest of the side, taking into consideration the opponents and the requirement of the formats on the upcoming tours.

“The players who have missed on selection will remain part of our strategy, and they will continue to work on their technical game at the National High Performance Centre under the watchful eyes of Mohammad Yousuf and Saqlain Mushtaq," Wasim said.

“The side, since the home series against South Africa, have maintained an upward movement. But still there are a few lose ends that we would like to close by the end of the England and West Indies tours so that there is absolutely clarity on our compositions for the post West Indies tour engagements.

“I strongly believe the changes will plug those gaps and will put us in a strong position in our endeavours to feature in the top three across all formats by the end of 2023," he said.

Azam sheds 30 kilos to earn call-up

Hard-hitting batsman Azam earned his maiden Pakistan call-up after shedding 30 kilos (66 pounds).

Azam has been on the radar of selectors for the last year, but was asked to trim his nearly 130-kilo weight before being considered.

Azam, the son of ex-skipper Moin Khan, claims to have lost about 30 kilos in the past 12 months. He has a strike rate of 157 in 36 domestic Twenty20 matches, including the Pakistan Super League.

Squads

ODIs: Babar Azam (captain) (Central Punjab), Shadab Khan (vice-captain) (Northern), Abdullah Shafique (Central Punjab), Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab), Fakhar Zaman (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Haider Ali (Northern), Haris Rauf (Northern), Haris Sohail (Balochistan), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Imam-ul-Haq (Balochistan), Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh), Mohammad Nawaz (Northern), Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper) (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Salman Ali Agha (Southern Punjab), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper) (Sindh), Saud Shakeel (Sindh), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Usman Qadir (Central Punjab)

T20Is: Babar Azam (captain) (Central Punjab), Shadab Khan (vice-captain) (Northern), Arshad Iqbal (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Azam Khan (Sindh), Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab), Fakhar Zaman (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Haider Ali (Northern), Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Imad Wasim (Northern), Mohammad Hafeez (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh), Mohammad Nawaz (Northern), Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper) (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Wasim Jnr (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper) (Sindh), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Sharjeel Khan (Sindh) and Usman Qadir (Central Punjab)

Tests: Babar Azam (captain) (Central Punjab), Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper) (vice-captain) (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Abdullah Shafique (Central Punjab), Abid Ali (Central Punjab), Azhar Ali (Central Punjab), Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab), Fawad Alam (Sindh), Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Imran Butt (Balochistan), Mohammad Abbas (Southern Punjab), Mohammad Nawaz (Northern), Naseem Shah (Central Punjab), Nauman Ali (Northern), Sajid Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper) (Sindh), Saud Shakeel (Sindh), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Shahnawaz Dahani (Sindh), Yasir Shah (Balochistan, subject to fitness) and Zahid Mahmood (Southern Punjab)


Additional input by AFP.

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