In a bid to ensure a winning combination for future international tournaments, Chief Selector Haroon Rasheed Wednesday defended the Green Shirts’ squad announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) a day earlier.
The board, on Tuesday, announced squads for the one-day international (ODI) and Twenty20 international (T20I) series against New Zealand — slated to take place in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Karachi from April 14 to May 7.
Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Fakhar Zaman and Haris Rauf returned to the side to play against the Kiwis.
“Three mega events are to be held in the next one year, which includes Asia Cup, World Cup and T20 World Cup. [We] are trying to make a combination accordingly [but] we have very little time,” Rasheed said while speaking with journalists in Lahore.
Stressing on the importance of playing ODIs, he added that Pakistan has eight 50-over matches before the Asia Cup. “We have played very less ODIs,” he said.
The ex-Test cricketer hoped for the team to have a good competition with New Zealand. “I don’t consider any team weak,” he said.
With regards to Azam Khan being dropped from the squad, PCB official said that the cricketer needs to identify his weakness and come back after working on it.
“Azam Khan has faced difficulty against spinners and will have to work on it,” Rasheed suggested and added that it doesn’t mean a player won’t make a comeback if they are dropped from the squad.
The 24-year-old batter managed to score just one run while playing two innings in the recently-held T20I series against Afghanistan in Sharjah.
The former cricketer was all praises for Haris Sohail who, according to Rasheed, is an extraordinary left-hand batter.
“Haris Sohail can prove good in Asian conditions. It will support the middle-order if he remains in form and fit,” the chief selector said.
Rasheed added that Sohail and Azam Khan cannot be compared, while he defended Shadab Khan’s inclusion citing “less cricket” as reason for giving the 24-year-old a chance in the team.
Bringing speculations around Babar Azam’s captaincy to rest, the PCB official said those were “just rumours” and said that he has “never spoken about this”.
A day ago, PCB Management Committee Chairman Najam Sethi had also rubbished speculations about Babar losing his captaincy in the near future.
“Babar Azam came to see me today. I told him he will lead the ODI and T20I national team against New Zealand. And then PCB announced the squads. So all those who were spreading fake fears are out of jobs today,” Sethi tweeted.
Rasheed spoke about consultation held with the skipper ahead of squad selection while referring to him as “our captain”.
“Two to three meetings have been held with Babar Azam and every player has been discussed,” he said, adding that there is no disagreement on anyone’s selection and “everyone is on the same page”.
However, who gets to play in the team or not is something which now depends on Babar Azam, Rasheed said. The chief selector also spoke about the team’s playing order, insisting that every player can now bat on any position as there is no specific number.
He shared that the coaching staff for the team will be finalised in a week and half.
During the presser, Rasheed also spoke about Pakistan Shaheens and spoke about adding Aamer Jamal to its squad.
“We have 30 to 35 players in mind. Several among these players will be going with Pakistan Shaheens,” he added.
T20I: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Ihsanullah, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood and Zaman Khan
ODI: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Ihsanullah, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Salman Ali Agha, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood and Usama Mir
Series schedule (T20Is to start at 9pm; ODIs to begin at 3:30pm):
- 14 Apr – 1st T20I, Lahore
- 15 Apr – 2nd T20I, Lahore
- 17 Apr – 3rd T20I, Lahore
- 20 Apr – 4th T20I, Rawalpindi
- 24 Apr – 5th T20I, Rawalpindi
- 27 Apr – 1st ODI, Rawalpindi
- 29 Apr – 2nd ODI, Rawalpindi
- 3 May – 3rd ODI, Karachi
- 5 May – 4th ODI, Karachi
- 7 May – 5th ODI, Karachi