Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) selection committee on Thursday named uncapped Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt and Haris Rauf in the 15-member squad for Twenty20 Internationals against Bangladesh to be played here at Gaddafi Stadium on January 24, 25 and 27.
The selection committee also recalled the experienced duo of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, along with pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi while total seven players, who were part of the 16-player squad that lost 2-0 to Australia in November, were replaced. The players missing out on selection are Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz. Asif, Fakhar, Haris, Amir and Wahab were also members of the squad that lost 3-0 to Sri Lanka at home in October.
Twenty six years old Ahsan scored 131 runs in five matches at a strike-rate of just under 149 in the National T20 Cup in Faisalabad in October after scoring 178 runs at a strike-rate of over 130 for Quetta Gladiators in the HBL PSL 2019, while 24-year-old Amad scored 80 runs at a strike-rate of 170 and also took 10 wickets at an economy-rate of 7.62 in the Faisalabad event. 26-year-old Haris, who took six wickets in Faisalabad, is the second leading wicket-taker with 16 in Australia’s Big Bash League.
Addressing the press conference to announce the national T20 squad, Pakistan chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said: “We have lost eight of our last nine T20Is and as the number-one ranked side, which is unacceptable. We need to end our losing cycle and get back to winning habits leading into the upcoming Asia Cup and ICC T20 World Cup. This has played a critical role in our decision-making.
“We tried our alternate combinations in the series against Sri Lanka and Australia and obviously, these didn’t work the way we had expected. Hafeez and Shoaib bring a total of 200 T20Is between them and if you mix these with the other youngsters we have in the side, then I think it becomes a good blend of experience and youth.
“The seven players who have missed out on selection are by no means out of our planning but considering their recent form in international cricket and taking into account other strong performances in our National T20 Cup, we have decided to make these changes. “The high-pressure and quality HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 is starting in four weeks’ time and if they can reclaim their winning form, then they will be back in contention for the upcoming assignments, including the Asia Cup and ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
“The matches against Bangladesh are part of our preparation, finding the right combination and building for the two major tournaments. The return of Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Shaheen Afridi gives us the experience and depth, while the exuberance of Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt and Haris Rauf gives the team more firepower, energy and all-round skill. “Furthermore, the three have been rewarded for their performances in the National T20 Cup as we remain committed to give value to our domestic cricket by providing opportunities to high-performing players,” he added.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam said: “I am happy with the selected squad and want to thank the selection committee for entertaining my request for Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik. I believe they still have plenty to offer to Pakistan cricket in the shortest format and their experience can be critical to our performances in the upcoming series.
“Ahsan, Amad and Haris have recently shown promise and talent and I think it is the right time to throw them at the deep end to check their ability to perform at an international level. I am sure home crowd and conditions will complement their talent and they will be able to justify their selections,” Babar asserted.
T20 SQUAD: Babar Azam (capt), Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Usman Qadir.