Pakistan name T20I squad for Afghanistan series; Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan & other senior players rested

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), on Monday, announced their 15-member squad for the upcoming T20I series against Afghanistan, starting March 25 in the United Arab Emirates.

In order to manage the workload, the selection committee has decided to rest some senior players, including regular skipper Babar Azam, wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan, fast bowler Shaheen Afridi, top-order batter Fakhar Zaman and pacer Haris Rauf.

“Babar, Fakhar, Haris, Rizwan and Shaheen have been provided breaks from the short Sharjah trip to allow them to switch off from competitive cricket so that they can complete their rehabilitations, regroup, recompose and recharge their batteries and be fully fit for the challenges in the tough and challenging 2023-24 season,” said PCB chief Najam Sethi in a press statement.

In the absence of Babar, star all-rounder Shadab Khan has been picked as the captain for the Sharjah tour. Imad Wasim has been recalled into the T20I outfit, while Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2023 performers Saim Ayub and Ihsanullah have received their maiden call-ups to the national team.

“I am not worried about winning or losing to Afghanistan – if we find few talented youngsters, it will solve the purpose. The series is largely about blooding our new talent and developing them. Babar will remain our captain in all the three formats. I have taken all the senior players into confidence and they all will be part of the team in future, there’s no question about this. Shadab Khan has been the vice-captain and an automatic choice to take captaincy in Babar’s absence, so he will lead the side,” added Sethi.

Notably, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Naseem Shah and Shan Masood are the only players retained from Pakistan’s last T20I assignment. Further, the likes of Abrar Ahmed, Haseebullah and Usama Mir have been picked as reserve players.

Pakistan squad for T20I series against Afghanistan:

Shadab Khan (capt), Abdullah Shafique, Azam Khan (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Ihsanullah, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Haris (wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shan Masood, Tayab Tahir, Zaman Khan

Reserve players: Abrar Ahmed, Haseebullah and Usama Mir

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