Shahid Afridi speaks during a press conference in Karachi on Thursday. AP
Pakistan on Thursday named three uncapped players — batters Tayyab Tahir and Kamran Ghulam and wrist spinner Usama Mir — in their 16-man squad and recalled Haris Sohail, Shan Masood for the upcoming three home ODI series against New Zealand.
Star pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi and leg-spinning all-rounder Shadab Khan are notably missing from Pakistan’s 16-member squad announced on Thursday for the three-match ODI series against New Zealand.
Shaheen injured his knee during the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in November last year and has not played since. Shadab, meanwhile, injured his finger this week playing in Australia’s Big Bash League.
The New Zealand series will be a vital part of Pakistan’s preparations for the World Cup later this year, interim chief selector Shahid Afridi said.
Both Tayyab and Usama produced stellar performances in the Pakistan Cup becoming best batter and bowler of the tournament.
Regular vice-captain Shadab Khan is a notable absentee in the squad, having suffered a finger injury during his stint with the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League and uncapped 27-year-old leg-spinner Usama has been named in his stead. However, there was no room for Abrar Ahmed who has been impressive with the red ball since making a stunning debut against England last month.
On the other hand, Haris Rauf, who missed the Test series against New Zealand and the two Tests prior to that after an injury blow in the first Test of the England series, made the return.
“We had limited ODI cricket last year and this year, we are scheduled to play 11 ODIs before we participate in the Asia Cup, followed by the World Cup in conditions that will be familiar to us,” interim chief selector Shahid Afridi said in the press conference.
“So, we aim to make optimum use of these 11 ODIs by providing opportunities to our consistent performers that will enable us to select the best available players for the two important tournaments,” he added. Meanwhile, Shan Masood and Haris Sohail make comebacks to the ODI squad.
Masood last played ODIs in 2019 while Sohail has not featured since 2020 in the fifty-overs format.
“We have decided to recall experienced Haris Sohail and Shan Masood as we believe the two lads still have plenty to offer to Pakistan cricket. We have not only rewarded Tayyab Tahir and Usama Mir for their outstanding performances in our domestic events, they have also been identified as future prospects,” Afridi said.
“These four players, along with Kamran Ghulam, have good knowledge of our conditions and have the talent and potential to excel at the highest level,” he added.
Pakistan will play New Zealand on Jan.9, 11 and 13 in Karachi.
Squad: Babar Azam (capt), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Agha Salman, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood, Tayyab Tahir, Usama Mir