T20 World Cup: Pakistan include Ali and Shah in 15-man squad

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Lahore, Sep 6 (IANS) Batsmen Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah have been included in Pakistan’s squad for the T20 World Cup in the UAE, said the chief selector Mohammad Wasim in a press conference on Monday. The 15-member squad will remain the same for the forthcoming home series against New Zealand and England.

Ali last featured in a T20I against Zimbabwe in April this year and averages 16.38 with a strike-rate of 123.74. His overall strike-rate in T20 cricket stands at 147. Shah last played in a T20I against South Africa in Lahore earlier this year. The left-hander averages more than 21 and holds a strike-rate of 109.24, while his overall T20 strike-rate stands at 134.

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“Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah may not have impressive numbers against their names but hardly anyone can doubt their tremendous talent and prowess. They are the best in the available pool of middle-order batsmen and we remain confident that they will provide us solutions to our middle-order difficulties through solid performances,” said Wasim.

Opener Sharjeel Khan, all-rounder Faheem Ashraf, veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik, wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed and left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz are the notable absentees from the squad. Leg-spinner Usman Qadar, uncapped right-arm pacer Shanawaz Dahani and opener Fakhar Zaman are the travelling reserves.

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Wasim quipped that the selected squad has tried to cover all bases catering to the modern-day style of T20 cricket. “This includes trusting the abilities, skills and experience of the players to perform in a high pressure global tournament in conditions that are familiar to us, as well as looking at the teams we will play in Group 2 matches.”

“The home series against New Zealand and England will provide us one-last opportunity to fine-tune our preparations. In doing so, we will like to win maximum matches so that we can carry the confidence and winning momentum to Dubai.”

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Wasim affirmed that Pakistan’s familiarity with UAE conditions will help the squad in doing well in the tournament. “Our impressive record in the United Arab Emirates, clubbed with the talent we have in our ranks and the well-planned preparations gives me significant confidence that we will perform well in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021. All the players now need to do is not to get overawed by the occasion, continue to keep faith in their abilities and try to give something extra each time they step onto the field.”

Pakistan have a five-match T20I series against New Zealand starting from September 25 in Lahore. It will be followed by two T20Is against England in Rawalpindi on October 13 and 14. Pakistan will then head to Dubai to begin their T20 World Cup campaign in a Group 2 marquee clash against India on October 24.

The squad: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Asif Ali, Azam Khan, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Sohaib Maqsood.

Reserves: Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir and Fakhar Zaman

–IANS

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