LAHORE: Seasoned all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, pacer Junaid Khan and leg-spinner Yasir Shah were recalled to national duty while Azhar Ali was axed as the selectors announced squads for the forthcoming T20 tri-nation event and ODI series in Zimbabwe.
Young batsman Babar Azam, who is still recovering from injury he sustained during the England tour, was named only in the ODI squad.
“[All-rounder] Asif Ali was included in the ODI squad to strengthen the lower middle order while Junaid Khan and Yasir Shah return to the ODI squad after getting fit. Babar Azam was not considered for T20s because he is recovering from injury and as per medical staff, it is hoped that he would be fit for the ODIs [in Zimbabwe],” a PCB press release quoted chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq as saying.
Sarfraz Ahmed will lead the 16-member squad in the ODIs besides captaining 15-member party in the tri-nation Twenty20 event involving Australia and hosts Zimbabwe. Pakistan first feature in the tri-nation T20 event from July 1 to 8, and then compete with Zimbabwe in a five-match ODI series from July 13 to 22 at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
The 37-year-old Hafeez, who has returned to international cricket after his bowling action was cleared by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the third time following corrective measures last month, got the selectors’ confidence both as bowler and batsman. The right-handed top-order batsman, who bowls off-spin, has represented Pakistan in 200 ODIs and 81 T20 Internationals and last played an ODI against New Zealand at Wellington in January this year.
Azhar Ali, who was part of Pakistan’s ODI team which suffered a humiliating 5-0 ODI series whitewash in New Zealand early this year, however, failed to retain his place.
Three others, who were part of that series — Aamir Yamin, Umar Amin and Rumman Raees — are not in the current squad. They have been replaced by Junaid, Usman Khan Shinwari and Yasir.
The 28-year-old left-armer Junaid has earned a recall after remaining in wilderness for more than eight months. He last played an ODI against Sri Lanka at Sharjah in October 2017.
Yasir, who was facing a hip injury and missed the Pakistan’s recent tour to England, got the selectors’ nod for the ODI series after two years during which he was confined to Test matches. Yasir, 32, last featured in an ODI against England at Nottingham in 2016. Rookie pacer Usman, also a left-armer, last appeared in an ODI against Sri Lanka at Sharjah last year.
For the T20 tri-series in Zimbabwe, the selectors dropped opener Ahmed Shehzad whose career is in the doldrums after the opener was reported to have been tested positive in a dope test conducted recently.
The only difference between the ODI and T20 squad is Babar Azam, Hussain Talat and new entrant Sahibzada Farhan and Shaheen Shah Afridi. In place of Shahzad, Farhan is in the team.