Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq in a press conference announced the squad for the T20Is against Bangladesh under Babar Azam’s captaincy.
The uncapped trio of Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt and Haris Rauf have all been included in the squad, while the experienced middle-order duo of Muhammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik finding themselves back in the side.
Rauf’s performances in the Big Bash League, where he currently leads the wicket-taking charts, have earned him praise from several quarters and the 26-year-old Lahore Qalandars pacer now has a chance of making his name at the international level.
Amad Butt and Ahsan Ali, meanwhile, have impressed in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and National T20 and will be hoping to play a part in the three-match series.
Misbah admitted that results haven’t been good enough and the world’s number one side need to address their slump. “We have lost eight of our last nine T20Is and as the number-one ranked side, this is unacceptable. We need to end our losing cycle and get back to winning habits leading into the upcoming Asia Cup and ICC T20 World Cup,” he said. “This has played a critical role in our decision-making.”
Some high profile names such as openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq, the middle-order duo of Haris Sohail and Asif Ali along with the left-arm pace trio of Muhammad Amir, Muhammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz have all been omitted from the squad.
Misbah, however, has insisted that the players are still very much in contention for the World Cup coming up.
“The seven players who have missed out on selection are by no means out of our planning but considering their recent form in international cricket and taking into account other strong performances in our National T20 Cup, we have decided to make these changes,” said Misbah.
Babar, the world’s number one T20I batsman, revealed that the inclusion of Hafeez and Malik was on his request.
“I am happy with the selected squad and want to thank the selection committee for entertaining my request for Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik,” he said. “I believe they still have plenty to offer to Pakistan cricket in the shortest format and their experience can be critical to our performances in the upcoming series.”
The Karachi Kings batsman then went on to praise the three potential debutants.
“Ahsan, Amad and Haris have recently shown promise and talent, and I think it is the right time to throw them at the deep end to check their ability to perform at an international level. I am sure home crowd and conditions will complement their talent and they will be able to justify their selections.”
1. Babar Azam (captain)
2. Ahsan Ali
3. Amad Butt
4. Haris Rauf
5. Iftikhar Ahmed
6. Imad Wasim
7. Khushdil Shah
8. Mohammad Hafeez
9. Mohammad Hasnain
10. Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper)
11. Musa Khan
12. Shadab Khan
13. Shaheen Shah Afridi
14. Shoaib Malik
15. Usman Qadir