Pakistan name squad for Zimbabwe tour


Mohammad Hafeez will be bowling for Pakistan once again after he was included in the 15-member squad “as an all-rounder” for the triangular T20I series, which runs from July 1 till July 8, against the hosts Zimbabwe and Australia. The 37-year-old was cleared by the International Cricket Council to bowl off-spin in May after he underwent remedial work and was tested at Loughborough University.

Hafeez, who has scored 1658 runs at an average of 22.71 and has taken 49 wickets at 23.87 apiece in the shortest format, last played a T20I in October against Sri Lanka at Lahore. He will stay in Zimbabwe for Pakistan’s five-match ODI series against Zimbabwe at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo which commences from July 13.

Before the three-match T20I series against Windies in Karachi, Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur had stated that the T20I side needed Hafeez as an all-rounder and if he doesn’t bowl “it becomes a problem”. The national selection committee, which is chaired by former Pakistan captain Inzamam ul Haq, after consultation with Arthur and Sarfraz Ahmed deemed fit to included Hafeez in both formats at this stage. His inclusion for the upcoming outings will help Pakistan as Hafeez will get to bowl at the international level before the Asia Cup in September and the World Cup next year.

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Pakistan have also included 22-year-old Sahibzada Farhan, known for his aggressive stroke-play, for the triangular series. The right-handed batsman averages 36.50 in the T20 format and has struck two fifties in 15 matches.

Ahmed Shehzad was dropped from the T20 side after he tested positive in a dope test, held in April this year. Rahat Ali, who did not play either of the two T20Is during Pakistan’s most recent T20 outing in Scotland, was also dropped from the T20 side.

Babar Azam was not considered for the T20I triangular series as he continues to recover from a wrist fracture that he sustained while batting at Lord’s during the first of the two-match Test series against England. He, however, has been included in the ODI squad subject to him regaining fitness.

Yasir, Junaid return to ODI side

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah and Junaid Khan have returned to the ODI squad after gaining fitness. Yasir, who last played an ODI in August 2016 against England in Nottingham (the match in which England scored then highest ODI total 444 for 3), was ruled out for 10 weeks in April after picking up a stress fracture in his hip and missed the Test series against England. Since making his ODI debut against Zimbabwe at Harare in September 2011, the leggie has featured in only 17 one-dayers for Pakistan as he has averaged 42.55 for 18 scalps.

Junaid was ruled out of Pakistan’s limited-overs tour of New Zealand in December after he fractured his foot during a Bangladesh Premier League match. The left-arm pacer, who is three away from his 100th ODI wicket, last played in October during the five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka.

Following a string of low scores, Azhar Ali was dropped for the ODIs. Since giving up captaincy following a disastrous five-match series in Australia that Pakistan lost 4-1 early last year, the right-handed opener has averaged 30 – which is 6.90 runs less than his overall ODI average. He played an instrumental role in Pakistan’s Champions Trophy triumph in England last summer, scoring three fifties in five matches – including the final. But, since the tournament he has lost the touch. He was dropped for the ODI series against Sri Lanka in the UAE due to a knee injury and made a return in New Zealand for five ODIs. He registered 6, 6, 0 in the first three ODIs before getting dropped for the remaining two one-dayers.

Twenty-six-year-old Asif Ali has also been included in the ODI squad “to strengthen the lower middle order”. Asif made his debut for Pakistan in April this year during the historic three-match series against Windies in Karachi on the basis of his brilliant performances during the 2018 PSL. He also turned up for Pakistan in the two matches against Scotland but failed to impress with the scores of 1* and 0.

T20I Squad

Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Sahibzada Farhan

ODI Squad

Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Babar Azam (subject to fitness), Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan*, Usman Khan*, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Haris Sohail