Keeping in mind next year’s T20 World Cup, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced a fresh-looking 16-man squad for the three-match T20I series against Australia beginning next month. After a disappointing show against Sri Lanka in the home T20Is, Pakistan made quite a few changes to their squad. Former skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed, who was sacked as Test and T20I skipper last week didn’t found a place in the Twenty20 squad announced on Monday. Experienced players – Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez also face the axe in the shorter format.
Azhar Ali, who was named as Pakistan new Test skipper will lead the team in the longer format. Whereas, Babar Azam will continue to lead the national outfit in T20Is. Budding wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan has been given a chance ahead of Sarfaraz. Pakistan have also named two rookie fast bowlers for the tour to Down Under. Musa Khan, 17 years old, was named in both the Test and Twenty20 squads, while 16-year-old Naseem Shah received his maiden Test call-up.
Both fast bowlers have impressed chief selector and Pakistan’s head coach Misbah-ul-Haq with their pace and skill. The duo will team up with the likes of Shaheen Afridi and the experienced Mohammad Abbas to lead Pakistan’s fast bowling attack.
“You have to have a surprise package if you want to compete against Australia in Australia and these two fast bowlers (Musa and Naseem) have a very good attitude toward fast bowling,” Misbah said Monday.
PCB have also recalled fast bowler Imran Khan Sr. and middle-order batsman Iftikhar Ahmed. Imran played his last Test against Australia in Sydney in 2017 while Iftikhar’s only previous test appearance came against England in 2016.
“Yes, it’s a brave and bold decision to select the likes of Musa and Naseem, but we know that their fresh and attacking approach will give us something different,” Misbah said. “The Australian wickets will give them the opportunity to express themselves, gain valuable experience and it will help us to take 20 wickets to win the tests.”
Abid Ali, who has performed well in the recent limited-overs series against Sri Lanka has been rewarded for his consistency with his maiden Test call. Kashif Bhatti is a surprise inclusion in the squad after the 33-year-old left-arm spinner took 327 wickets in 83 first-class matches over the last 12 years.
The three T20I series will be played in Sydney (November 3) , Canberra (Nov. 5) and Perth (Nov. 8). The Test series will begin from November 21-25 in Brisbane while the second Test in Adelaide (Nov. 29-Dec. 3) will be a day-night match.
Pakistan T20I Squad: Babar Azam (C), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz.
Pakistan Test Squad: Azhar Ali (C), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Sr., Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.