LAHORE: The PCB selection committee of the national men’s team, headed by Chief Selector Haroon Rasheed, has rested captain Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shaheen Shah Afridi, Fakhar Zaman and Haris Rauf with a view to manage workload and future assignments of the senior cricketers and blood young cricketers into the national side.
Shadab Khan has been asked to lead the team in the three T20Is against Afghanistan in Sharjah as a natural choice, as he has been deputy of Babar Azam in the format and is an excellent all-rounder, who has led Islamabad United well in the HBL PSL 8.
The 15-member squad includes the first-timers like Ihsanullah and Saim Ayub, besides Shan Masood, Tayyab Tahir, Abdullah Shafique, Iftikahr Ahmed, Mohammad Haris (wk), Azam Khan (wk), Mohammad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Muhammad Nawaz Naseem Shah, Zaman Khan and Imad Wasim, who returns to the national squad on the back of a superlative all-round performance in the ongoing HBL SPL 8 for Karachi Kings, where he scored 404 runs at an average of 170. 46 and grabbed 9 wickets. Abrar Ahmed, Hassebullah and Usama Mir have been announced as three reserves.
In a press conference at the PCB headquarters here on Monday, Chairman PCB Management Committee Najam Sethi dispelled the impression that Babar Azam was being replaced as the all-format national team captain, adding that all five players have been taken into confidence and rested keeping in view the future assignments including the series against Sri Lanka, Asia Cup and the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup in India this year.
Sethi said ‘Pakistan has fielded a young side on the tour of Afghanistan to groom and assess new talent “and I have consulted all senior players and taken Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Fakhar Zaman and Haris Rauf in the loop on the matter”.
The PCB chief said he was least concerned about losing or winning the series against Afghanistan but the series will serve as an opportunity to harness young talent who will serve the national cricket in good stead in future.
About Shaheen Shah Afridi, he said he had never contemplated discussing captaincy with Shaheen Shah Afridi, adding that Babar Azam is the top performer of Pakistan cricket and he will remain captain of the team in all formats as long as he wishes to lead.
About the Indian stance regarding non-participation in the Asia Cup, to be held in Pakistan, Najam Sethi said that he would take up the issue during the ACC and ICC meetings, adding that Asia Cup and Champions Trophy tournaments are to be held in Pakistan and he will present PCB stance.
He said that the BCCI enjoyed good clout at the ICC, adding that he had sought direction from the government of Pakistan on the matter, adding that he was bound to follow instructions of the patron PCB Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif.
“If Pakistan government directs me to take part in the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 in India, I will do the bidding,” the PCB chief responded. Najam Sethi said that the PCB would not demand any share from the revenue of the three match T20Is series against Afghanistan, adding that Sharjah was a small cricket ground and no big revenues were not expected from the series.
Regarding hooliganism by the Afghan spectators in the past, the PCB chief said the Afghan Board has assured of implementing preventive measures, adding that the UAE government has also introduced new plans like allotting separate enclosures to the Pakistan and Afghanistan spectators and imposition of strict penalties against the violent crowds. (APP)