Thursday, May 30, 2024

Pakistan’s T20 World Cup squad announcement delayed; Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf named for Ireland and England tour

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Pakistan delayed the announcement of their 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup. The PCB named an 18-member team for the three-match T20I series against Ireland on Thursday. The same players will then travel to England for four T20Is. Selectors said that the 15-member World Cup squad would be announced after the first T20 against England on May 22. The International Cricket Council has set May 24 as the deadline for participating teams to finalize their squads.

Members of the Pakistan cricket team’s selection committee, from left to right, Abdul Razak, Mohammad Yousaf and Wahab Riaz(AP)

Pakistan will play three T20s against Ireland in Dublin from May 10-14 before heading to England for four T20s from May 22-30. The World Cup in the United States and Caribbean starts June 1, and Pakistan’s opener is June 6.

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Fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali and all-rounder Salman Ali Agha were recalled to the squad. Wrist spinner Usama Mir and fast bowler Zaman Khan did not make the cut from the original 17-player squad that faced New Zealand.

Ali has taken 60 wickets in 50 T20s but hasn’t 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.

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

Rauf has been out of competitive cricket since dislocating his shoulder in February during the PSL but has been bowling at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore, where he’s undergoing rehabilitation.

Azam missed out on the drawn series against New Zealand 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.

“We still have time to finalize our World Cup squad and we want to look at fitness of a few players,” said Wahab Riaz, one of seven members on the selection committee.

“Hasan was under consideration and we have given him clarity that he is the backup for Haris Rauf in case he (Rauf) doesn’t fully recover.”

Leg-spinner Usama Mir and fast bowler Zaman Khan, who both featured in the series against the Black Caps, were cut. All-rounder Salman Ali Agha was recalled as an option in a spin department that also features Shadab Khan, Abrar Ahmed, Imad Wasim and Iftikhar Ahmed.

“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.”

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.

Pakistan squad for Ireland and England T20s: 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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