LAHORE: Pakistan dropped five players from their previous One-day International squad to name a 16-man group for the upcoming three-match home series against the West Indies on Monday.

The series, which is a part of the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League, will be Pakistan’s first to be played without strict Covid-19 prevention measures and bio-secure bubbles since the pandemic broke out two years ago. It will be played from June 8 to 12.

A trimmed squad meant all-rounder Asif Afridi, batters Asif Ali and Haider Ali and spinner Usman Qadir lost their places. Batter Saud Shakeel was not included as he is scheduled to undergo a sinusitis surgery, a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) press release said.

Pakistan vice-captain Shadab Khan, who had been nursing an injury that he sustained during the Pakistan Super League earlier this year also returned to the squad. The all-rounder missed out in the three ODIs and the solitary T20 against Australia.

The Babar Azam-led national side’s spin-bowling department received another major boost as left-armer Mohammad Nawaz regained his place after an injury break.

Pakistan are currently placed ninth in the World Cup Super League standings after six wins in twice as many outings and a 3-0 win can take them to the third spot.

“As the ODIs against the West Indies are part of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 qualification, we have decided to give best chance to our side to collect maximum points and strengthen our chances of progressing directly for the pinnacle 50-over tournament,” chief selector Mohammad Wasim was quoted as saying in the PCB press release.

“We have retained the same core of players so they further establish themselves in the format.

“Also, and taking into consideration that there will be no Managed Event Environment and the players can be called at a short notice, we have reduced the squad size to 16 players.”

The squad includes three openers in Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq, three middle-order batters in Babar, Iftikhar Ahmed and Khushdil Shah, two wicket-keeper/batters in Mohammad Haris and Mohammad Rizwan, two spin all-rounders Nawaz and Shadab with Zahid Mahmood as a wrist spinner and five fast bowlers in Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shahnawaz Dahani.

The players will assemble in Rawalpindi on June 1 for a training camp and Haris Rauf, Hasan, Rizwan and Shadab, who are presently playing in the English County Championship, will join the squad in time for the practice sessions, said the PCB statement.

While Rawalpindi has been announced as the venue for the series, the PCB has chosen Multan as the backup venue if the law and order situation in Islamabad deteriorates due to current political crisis in the country.

Pakistan squad:

Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris (wicket-keeper/batter), Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wicket-keeper/batter), Mohammad Wasim Junior, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani and Zahid Mahmood.

Published in Dawn,May 24th, 2022

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