Pakistan cricket selectors have named an experienced 15-player squad for the upcoming T20I series against New Zealand and England, and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021. The seven home T20Is in Lahore and Rawalpindi will be played from 25 September to 14 October, while Pakistan will proceed to take on India in a battle of former champions in their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup opener in Dubai on 24 October.
Domestic performers Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah have been drafted into the side to provide more firepower in the middle-order. Asif played his 29th and last T20I for Pakistan against Zimbabwe earlier in April and averages 16.38 with a strike rate of 123.74, while his overall strike rate in T20 cricket stands at 147. Khushdil Shah’s ninth and last T20I was against South Africa in Lahore earlier this year. The left-hander averages more than 21 and holds a strike rate of 109.24, while his overall T20 strike rate stands at 134.
Chief Selector Muhammad Wasim said, “While selecting the squad, we have tried to cover all our bases by catering for the modern-day brand of T20 cricket that will be required to perform impressively in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. This includes trusting the abilities, skills and experience of the players to perform in a high-pressure global tournament in conditions that are familiar to us, as well as looking at the teams we will play in Group-2 matches.
“Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah may not have impressive numbers against their names but hardly anyone can doubt their tremendous talent and prowess. They are the best in the available pool of middle-order batsmen and we remain confident that they will provide us solutions to our middle-order difficulties through solid performances."
From the 19 players who were part of the Pakistan squad for the T20I series in England and the West Indies, Arshad Iqbal, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Sharjeel Khan, and Usman Qadir have been left out, though Fakhar and Usman along with Shahnawaz Dahani have been named as the three traveling reserves.
The 15-player squad includes five batters (Asif Ali, Babar Azam, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, and Sohaib Maqsood), two wicketkeeper-batters (Azam Khan and Mohammad Rizwan), four all-rounders (Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, and Shadab Khan) and four fast bowlers (Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain, and Shaheen Shah Afridi).