Shoaib, Sarfaraz out of Zimbabwe series squad

LAHORE: Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed have not been picked for the upcoming Zimbabwe series, as head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq on Monday named 22 probable for the ODI and T20I series against Zimbabwe, insisting he has opted for experience in the 50-over matches and provided extended run to the youngsters in the T20I format.

“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,” Misbah said.

The series against Zimbabwe 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.

For the Lahore T20Is, the selectors have preferred continuity and consistency, while acknowledging the just concluded National T20 Cup had provided some exciting talent.

The selectors have rewarded Central Punjab’s Abdullah Shafiq with a call-up. Shoaib Malik, who was player of the final, has made way for Abdullah Shafiq, while Rohail Nazir has been named as Mohammad Rizwan’s back-up wicketkeeper.

Sarfaraz Ahmed, who was part of the squad for the England tour, has been encouraged to feature in the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, starting 25 October, so that he rediscovers better form ahead of the New Zealand tour. 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.

Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq said: “The National T20 Cup saw some outstanding individual performances. A few leading performers may feel disappointed that they have been unable to break into the squad. But, I want to reassure them that they will remain in consideration for the New Zealand tour and early next year’s home series. All they now need to do is to carry those impressive run of forms in the upcoming domestic competitions. Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz provide us that useful experience in the batting and bowling respectively, this will benefit the youngsters.

The probable will assemble in Lahore on 21st October 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 26th October.

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.