Pakistan Head Coach Misbah-ul-Haq on Wednesday announced the 35-player squad for the New Zealand tour.
Babar Azam will lead the squad of six openers, 11 middle-order batsmen, three wicket-keepers, five spinners, and 10 pacers.
Addressing a presser in Lahore, Misbah said that the upcoming series is “crucial” for the team as it will help Pakistan improve its T20I rankings and gain valuable points in the ICC World Test Championship.
“Against this background and taking into consideration recent player performances, we have selected the best available players,” he added.
Asad Shafiq, who’s played a record 72 consecutive Tests for Pakistan, will not feature in their upcoming series in New Zealand. He made only 67 runs in five innings on their tour of England.
Explaining Asad’s exclusion, Misbah said that Asad Shafiq has been dropped due to “lack of form” as he had only scored 510 runs in his last 15 innings.
“Asad is an experienced batsman and I am sure he will utilise this time to work harder on his game in the domestic first-class matches so that he, like Sarfaraz Ahmed, can reclaim his form and be back in contention for the upcoming Tests against South Africa and Zimbabwe,” said Misbah.
While, for Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir, Misbah said that they have been excluded as the PCB has decided to “invest, develop and focus on the promising and emerging players who are likely to be available to Pakistan for all formats”. Neither of them were picked for the recent Zimbabwe series as well.
Following are the players shortlisted for the tour:
Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, and Zeeshan Malik.
Babar Azam, Azhar Ali, Danish Aziz, Fawad Alam, Haider Ali, Haris Sohail, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imran Butt, Khushdil Shah, and Mohammad Hafeez.
Mohammad Rizwan, Rohail Nazir, and Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir, Yasir Shah, and Zafar Gohar.
Amad Butt, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Musa, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohail Khan, and Wahab Riaz.
According to the PCB, players, along with 20-member players support personnel, will depart for Lincoln on November 23 where they will spend the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
Pakistan v New Zealand Schedule :
Dec 18 — First T20I, Eden Park, Auckland
Dec 20 — Second T20I, Seddon Park, Hamilton
Dec 22 — Third T20I, McLean Park, Napier
Dec 26-30 — First Test, Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
January 3-7 — Second Test, Hagley Oval, Christchurch
Schedule of Shaheens vs New Zealand A will be announced as soon as it is confirmed by the NZC