First call-up for Abdullah Shafique but Sarfaraz left out as Misbah names 22 'probables' for Zimbabwe series

Pak vs Zim: First national call-up for Abdullah Shafique as Misbah names 22-man squad

October 19, 2020

Head coach and outgoing chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq on Monday announced a 22-man group as "probables" for the home series against Zimbabwe, naming several uncapped players and National T20 Cup standouts such as Abdullah Shafique, Khushdil Shah and Rohail Nazir but leaving out veterans such as Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik.

It was the last squad that Misbah picked for a home assignment as he is set to relinquish the chief selector's role at the end of November. He is still expected to name the touring party for the New Zealand tour later.

Misbah explained that the group picked was a blend of youth and experience as Pakistan have not played ODI cricket for a long time and so too much experimentation could not have been done.

"One day is now very important for us," he said. "We need to win every match to qualify. No team can be taken as easy opponents.

"We did not do too much experimentation as we have not played ODI cricket for a year. We will try and give more chances to youngsters in the T20I series."

'On present form, Rizwan is clearly number one'

He then discussed why Sarfaraz and Malik were absent from the list. "Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik were not picked as we want to try some young players, not seniors," he said.

"It was difficult to give Sarfaraz a chance as Rizwan is playing well. Not many will disagree that on present form, Rizwan is the first-choice wicketkeeper in both the white-ball formats. 

"Sarfaraz will now have to play domestic cricket to put himself in contention for the New Zealand tour.

"Rohail Nazir has been chosen as Rizwan’s back-up wicketkeeper. Instead of Sarfaraz sitting on the substitute bench, it makes sense that he plays in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy so that he retains his fitness and rediscovers form for the tour for the longer and more demanding tour of New Zealand.”

'Sarfaraz and Malik's careers are definitely not over' 

Misbah, in a PCB press release, made it clear that those left out should not take it as if their international careers were over.

"I want to categorically state that their careers are not over by any means as performance remains the only criterion for selection," he said.

"These are strategic decisions as Shoaib Malik’s absence will provide players like Abdullah Shafiq, Haider Ali and Khushdil Shah better chances of featuring in the upcoming matches.

“We have followed the same philosophy while leaving out Mohammad Amir and Usman Shinwari so that bowlers like Mohammad Hasnain, Musa Khan and Haris Rauf can get an extended run."

Sharjeel Khan, Azam Khan and Zeeshan Ashraf will be added to a specialized fitness program, Misbah added.

'National T20 performers who missed out will be considered in future'

Several top performers of the recently concluded National T20 Cup such as Zeeshan Malik and Danish Aziz did not get into the squad but Misbah assured them that they will have their chance in future.

"A few leading performers may feel disappointed that they have been unable to break into the squad," he stated in the press release.

"But, I want to reassure them that they will remain in consideration for the New Zealand tour and early next year’s home series." 

Complete squad for Zimbabwe series

Abdullah Shafique, Abid Ali, Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Rohail Nazir (wicketkeeper), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan (vice captain), Usman Qadir, Haris Rauf, Zafar Gohar, Fahim Ashraf, Mohamamad Hasnain, Musa Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Wahab Riaz

The Zimbabwe national team is expected to land in Pakistan tomorrow (Tuesday).

Following their mandatory quarantine, the three-match ODI series will begin in Rawalpindi from October 30, whereas the T20I series is scheduled to kick off on November 7.

Pre-announcement chatter

Speculation was rife that veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik and some other regulars will be rested and some standouts of the recently concluded National T20 Cup such as Abdullah Shafique and Khushdil Shah will instead be blooded into the side.