Monday, May 20, 2024

Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali back in Pakistan’s T20 squad ahead of World Cup

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Pakistan have recalled formerly out-of-favour injured fast bowler Haris Rauf and medium-pacer Hasan Ali for their Twenty20 series against Ireland and England later this month, their final warm-ups for the T20 World Cup, but have not announced their squad for the 20-team tournament in June.

Wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan, Azam Khan and Muhammad Irfan Khan, who all suffered injuries last month against New Zealand, were also included in an 18-man squad named on Thursday.

Pakistan’s selectors have not yet named their final 15-man squad for June’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in the United States and West Indies.

“We are having fitness issues with a few players but we hope that during the England tour, we will be able to finalise the World Cup squad,” selector Wahab Riaz told a news conference in Lahore.

All 20 World Cup teams had to submit preliminary 15-player squads to the International Cricket Council by the May 1 deadline, but they can make changes until May 25.

Rauf, wicketkeeper-batters Mohammad Rizwan and Azam Khan and middle-order batter Irfan Khan all are recovering from injuries and were included in the 18-member squad.

Rauf, 30,  has been out of competitive cricket since dislocating his shoulder in February during the Pakistan Super League but has been bowling at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore, where he is undergoing rehabilitation.

Azam missed out on the because of a calf muscle injury he sustained on the eve of the first T20 at Rawalpindi. Rizwan and Irfan both were ruled out of the last two T20s against the Black Caps because of hamstring injuries they sustained during the third game.

“Rauf has started bowling and by the time we will be playing England he will be match fit,” said Riaz.

“As a back-up, we have included Hasan Ali in the squad.” Hasan has not played a Twenty20 international for Pakistan since September 2022.

Ali has taken 60 wickets in 50 T20s but has not played in the format for Pakistan since the Asia Cup in September 2022. He has been playing for Warwickshire in the English County Championship Division One and came under consideration after taking 14 wickets in the Pakistan Super League while representing Karachi Kings.

Usman Khan gets another chance after switching allegiance

The selectors have given another chance to top-order batter Usman Khan, who shifted his allegiance to Pakistan, his country of birth, resulting in a five-year ban from representing the Emirates Cricket Board. Usman scored only 59 runs in four matches against New Zealand with the top score of 31, and struggled to make an impact in the drawn series.

Spinning all-rounder Agha Salman, who has played Tests and one-day internationals, is in line for his T20 debut after being included.

Agha was recalled as an option in a spin department that also features Shadab Khan, Abrar Ahmed, Imad Wasim and Iftikhar Ahmed.

Leg-spinner Usama Mir and fast bowler Zaman Khan, who both featured in the series against the Black Caps, were cut.

“We understand Usama and Zaman will be disappointed,” Riaz said.

“They are quality cricketers and have long careers ahead of them. They need to continue to focus on their cricket so that they are available if required.”

Pakistan play Ireland in Dublin on May 10, 12 and 14.

Four matches follow against England at Headingley in Leeds on May 22, Edgbaston in Birmingham (May 25), Sophia Gardens in Cardiff (May 28) and the Oval in London (May 30).

Pakistan T20 squad for matches in Ireland and England: Babar Azam (captain), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Rizwan, Irfan Khan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Usman Khan.

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