Abbas Afridi, Haseebullah Khan and Usama Mir have earned their maiden T20 International (T20I) call-up for the upcoming series against New Zealand following an impressive run in the domestic circuit. Sahibzada Farhan, who made his T20I debut for Pakistan in 2018 has also returned to the squad. This will be the first time Shaheen Afridi will take charge of the side following the resignation of Babar Azam.
The team will head to New Zealand after the Test series against Australia, while the rest of the squad will depart from Lahore on January 3, 2024.
22-year-old Abbas Afridi, who represented Peshawar, was among the top wicket-takers of the National T20 Cup, scalping 14 wickets 16.43 in nine matches. Earlier during the domestic season, he ended as the joint-highest wicket-taker of the Pakistan Cup; bagging 15 wickets at 15 from seven games. He was also named the emerging player of Pakistan Super League (PSL) 8.
Leg-spinner Usama Mir has earned his maiden T20I call-up, having made his ODI debut for Pakistan this year as well. He has featured in 12 games in the format thus far.
Haseebullah earned his maiden call-up after impressing with the bat during the domestic season. He was declared player of the tournament during this year’s Pakistan Cup for his remarkable performance with the bat and gloves; he made 326 runs in seven matches, including two centuries and a half-century, and had 10 dismissals behind the stumps.
Farhan amassed 492 runs from 12 games in the National T20 Cup. The right-handed batter smashed a century and four half-centuries in the Cup. Uncapped Abrar Ahmed returns to the squad as well. Azam Khan, who last featured for Pakistan against Afghanistan in March 2023, has also been named in the squad.
Naseem Shah, Ihsanullah and Shadab Khan will not be part of the squad due to injuries. Shan Masood, Mohammad Haris and Faheem Ashraf, who were part of Pakistan’s squad during the last bilateral series, miss out on the tour.
Chief selector Wahab Riaz said, “It is very important for us to nurture our young talent as they have to represent Pakistan going forward. This is the best pool of players but we also want to build back-ups. We have to explore our new talent and see what kind of performances they are capable of producing. Going forward, we need to understand our back-up options in our player pool and promote domestic performers.
“Mohammad Haris has been rested during this series. We are well aware of his capabilities and he is part of our plans going forward. Shan Masood is also part of our plans and likewise has been rested for this series. We will call him up if we require him to fill any gaps in the team.”
The five-match T20I series against New Zealand begins on January 12 in Auckland and will end on January 21 in Christchurch. In between, there will be matches in Hamilton and Dunedin as well.