Uncapped 20-year-old batsman Abdullah Shafique was named in the Pakistan squad on Monday for the limited-overs home series against Zimbabwe as the selectors dropped experienced allrounder Shoaib Malik, fast bowler Mohammad Amir and wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Shafique made an impressive T20 debut in the recent National Twenty20 tournament when he made a century against Central Punjab and eventually scored 358 runs in 10 innings with a strike rate of 133. Shafique also scored a century in his only first-class game.
Malik made way for Shafique while Rohail Nazir has been named as backup wicketkeeper to Mohammad Rizwan after Sarfaraz was left out. Fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Naseem Shah were not considered for the limited-overs series as they recover from injuries.
Chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq stressed that the three dropped players may still have a future with the team, adding that his selections were made purely on how the players have performed.
“I want to categorically state that their careers are not over by any means as performance remains the only criterion for selection,” Misbah said in a statement. “We have followed the same philosophy while leaving out Mohammad Amir … so that bowlers like Mohammad Hasnain, Musa Khan and Haris Rauf can get an extended run.”
Misbah said Sarfaraz could be considered for next month’s tour to New Zealand provided he regains his form and fitness while playing in next month’s domestic first-class game.
“Instead of Sarfaraz sitting on the substitute bench, it makes sense that he plays in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (first-class tournament) so that he retains his fitness and rediscovers form for the longer and more demanding tour of New Zealand,” Misbah said.
The selectors have picked a pool of 22 probables for the three-match one-day international series and three Twenty20 internationals against Zimbabwe, starting with an ODI in Rawalpindi on Oct. 30.
The squad will adhere to COVID-19 protocols in a bio-secure bubble. The 22 probables will undergo COVID-19 testing in Lahore on Wednesday and after going through a five-day isolation period, they will travel to Rawalpindi next Monday.
Squad: Babar Azam, Abdullah Shafique, Imam-u-Haq, Harris Sohail, Haider Ali, Abid Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Khushdil Shah, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Rohail Nazir, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain, Haris Rauf, Musa Khan, Wahab Riaz, Zafar Gohar, Usman Qadar.