Head coach and chief selector Misbah ul Haq rang in the changes in his 1st squad selection as Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, and Mohammad Nawaz were named in the squad for the upcoming ODI series against Sri Lanka. The three-match home series starts 27th September in Karachi.
Shoaib Malik goes out after retiring from the 50 over format, while Mohammad Hafeez has been allowed to continue his Caribbean Premier League stint. Misbah ul Haq, however, stressed that in T20s both Malik and Hafeez have performed well in the recent past and will be considered in the future. For now, it seems like that domestic performer, Iftikhar Ahmed has been given a chance to impress. He is being considered more as an all-rounder.
“Iftikhar is a mature batsman, who ticks all the boxes in terms of domestic performance, fitness criteria and he is a three-dimensional player. He has had excellent performances for the past three to four seasons. However, he is a player in the ilk of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, which meant he didn’t get many chances. We are now giving him a chance to impress. In the 11, he can come as the 5th bowler, rather than a sixth bowler. With his experience, he can bowl at any time in the innings and provide balance to the side,” said the former Pakistan captain.
Addressing similar issues with regards to team balance he stated that they are working hard to add firepower lower down the order.
“This has been a bit of an issue in recent years. We haven’t had players at number 6, 7 and 8 who can come in and create an impact. Besides Imad, there aren’t many options. Hence, we have brought in Mohammad Nawaz to create some backup. Moreover, there are other options like Faheem Ashraf, Amir Yamin, and Amad Butt. We are working with Faheem to bring consistency in his batting. He has shown glimpses in the past. Currently, Wahab occupies this place as he is some who is selected on the basis of bowling but can add a few runs at the end. New all-rounders have to better this performance to break into the team”.
He also backed Fakhar Zaman as an impact player whose form has dipped in recent matches only. Abid Ali has been selected, on the back of his century against Australia.
On Mohammad Rizwan’s inclusion, Misbah stressed that he hasn’t come in as a replacement of captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.
“Sarfaraz and Rizwan’s roles are different,” he said, “If someone has scored two hundreds at No. 4, you have a chance. You have the added advantage of having two wicketkeepers, fitness-wise he is very good, and he will be in the loop. We are trying to encourage such players and we will try to give them matches whenever we have a chance.”
With regards to Sarfaraz’s performance with the bat, the head coach showed confidence in his ability with the bat and emphasized that Sarfaraz should give himself the best chance to showcase his talent.
“Future is known to Almighty only. Let’s give him a chance. Sarfaraz has worked a lot on his fitness. The biggest mistake was that Sarfaraz didn’t give himself a chance to prove [himself] as a batsman. If he gives 100 percent chance to himself, he is a player who can give you performances. Sarfaraz should not underestimate himself as a batsman.”
With regards to bowling, Shaheen Shah Afridi is still recovering from dengue fever, while Hasan Ali is suffering from a back spasm. Junaid Khan has missed out due to lack of form according to Misbah. Meanwhile, he revealed that bowling Coach Waqar Younus is working to prepare Hasnain to bowl 10 overs and also be in the field for 50 overs.
Ahmed Shehzad and Umer Akmal, he revealed that work is being done to improve their fitness level and they will get their chances in the T20I series.
Pakistan ODI squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt), Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hasnain, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Usman Khan Shinwari, Wahab Riaz