Pakistan have been hit by a huge blow as ace pacer Naseem Shah could miss the entire upcoming World Cup due to a shoulder injury.
Naseem Shah sustained the injury during the match against India at the 2023 Asia Cup. The injury to Naseem Shah’s right shoulder is worse than what was initially suspected and the speedster could remain on the sidelines till the Pakistan Super League (PSL) next year.
Pakistan Cricket Board's medical team is monitoring the status of Naseem Shah’s shoulder injury and medical consultations with the experts are underway to provide the best possible care to Naseem.
The PCB medical panel will decide on the fast bowler's return to cricket based on further assessments.
For the remainder of Asia Cup 2023, Naseem Shah was replaced by Zaman Khan, however, it is still unsure who will take Naseem's place in the upcoming World Cup in India.
Apart from Naseem, pacer Ihsanullah was also dealing with an elbow injury and had been advised two months to rest after the surgery.
On the other hand, Mohammad Hasnain is undergoing his rehabilitation from injury in England while Hasan Ali has just started bowling in NCA after recovering from a finger injury and is expected to be available for the World Cup. The above pacers were not considered for selection in the Asia Cup either.
The 22-year-old made his debut against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup 2023, however, he was unable to bag a wicket in his six-over spell. He bowled an exceptional last over where he needed to defend 8 and there is a high chance, he could be the replacement of Naseem Shah in the 15-man squad.
Known for his slingy action, Zaman has not played 50-over cricket much but his death bowling puts him ahead. He only has played eight List A games where he has taken six wickets.
The 25-year-old was also called up as a backup for the Asia Cup but didn't become part of the squad officially. He also boasts a high chance of replacing Naseem since he bowls over 140 kph.
He has represented Pakistan twice in ODIs and has taken a sole wicket in his debut game against the West Indies in Multan. His List A record is also impressive, taking 56 wickets in 31 games.
Hasan Ali could be preferred ahead of the above-mentioned bowlers because of his international experience. The 29-year-old has 91 wickets in 60 ODIs. He was also the Player of the Tournament in Pakistan's 2017 Champions Trophy winning campaign and his batting also gives an edge from others.
Despite having options, Pakistan will surely miss Naseem Shah in the mega event since he has been an integral part of the side across formats since his comeback last year.
The ICC World Cup 2023 will take place in India with 10 teams fighting for the elusive title across 10 venues from October 5 to November 19, with the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad hosting the tournament opener and the final.
The Cricket World Cup will be played in a round-robin format with all teams playing against each other for a total of 45 league matches.
The top four teams will qualify for the semifinals, which will be held in Mumbai on November 15 and in Kolkata on November 16. The semi-finals and the final will have reserve days.
According to the tournament's regulations, all teams must finalise their 15-player squads prior to September 28, with any replacements after this date requiring approval from the ICC.