20-year-old Central Punjab batsman Abdullah Shafiq has received a call-up to the Pakistan National Cricket team as they announced their squads for the upcoming limited-overs series against Zimbabwe. Senior players such as Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mohammad Amir has been left out of the squad.
Rohail Nazir, who has led the Pakistan U19 side over the past few years, has been called up to be Mohammad Rizwan’s back-up keeper in place of Sarfaraz.
Misbah ul Haq, head coach of the Pakistan Cricket team, explained, “With an eye on future and as part of the succession plan, Rohail Nazir has been chosen as Rizwan’s back-up wicketkeeper. Instead of Sarfaraz sitting on the substitute bench, it makes sense that he plays in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy so that he retains his fitness and rediscovers form for the tour for the longer and more demanding tour of New Zealand.
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“Abdullah Shafiq has been rewarded for his tremendous potential and performance. He has been identified as a future prospect and, therefore, drafted into the squad as part of his development. Seniors like Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed have not been picked for this series, but 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.
“We have followed the same philosophy while leaving out Mohammad Amir and Usman Shinwari so that bowlers like Mohammad Hasnain, Musa Khan and Haris Rauf can get an extended run.”
Abdullah Shafiq finished as the seventh most successful batsman in the National T20 Cup. He scored 358 runs with a strike-rate of over 133 and even scored a hundred on his T20 debut, becoming only the second player in history to make a century on both his first-class and T20 debuts.
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Among senior players, Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz have been retained for their “useful experience in the batting and bowling respectively, that will benefit the youngsters,” according to Misbah.
The probables will assemble in Lahore on October 21 for COVID-19 testing and will observe a five-day isolation period. During this period, they will play two 50-over matches at the Gaddafi Stadium before traveling to Rawalpindi on October 26. Pakistan play three ODIs against Zimbabwe starting October 30 before moving to Lahore for the three T20Is. The probables for that series will be shortlisted after the ODIs.
List of probables: Abdullah Shafiq, Abid Ali, Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Rohail Nazir (wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir, Zafar Gohar, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Musa Khan, Shaheen Shah, Wahab Riaz