• Wednesday, June 19, 2024

CRICKET

Pakistan announce World Cup 2023 squad; key bowler misses out

The former champions picked a team featuring experienced players to boost their chances of clinching the crown after 31 years.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

FORMER world champions Pakistan on Friday (22) announced their 15-member squad for the upcoming World Cup in India and the list excluded the name of Naseem Shah, the promising fast bowler who was ruled out midway in the recently held Asia Cup in Sri Lanka due to an injury.

Hasan Ali, who last played an international 50-over match more than a year ago, was picked as Shah’s replacement.

Fast bowlers Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Hasnain also did not get berths.

“Since Naseem is out, we needed a bowler who could bowl with a new ball and I think Hasan Ali is a very good choice in that regard,” chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, who announced the Pakistan squad, said.

He added that Ali was a “team man” and his inclusion in the side would bring energy to the team.

The absence of the 20-year-old Shah, who injured himself during a clash against India in the Asia Cup and did not return to the field since, is set to miss a lot of action in the coming months.

The speedster, who also has a useful batting hand, posted on X the same day in which he regretted missing the marquee tournament but wished his country to do well in the tournament.

The side, which will be led by Babar Azam, still has some experienced players who boost its chances of winning the World Cup for the first time since 1992.

On the batting front are Fakhar Zaman, Imam-Ul-Haq, Mohammed Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed and Salman Agha to support Azam. The young duo of Mohammed Haris and middle-order batter Saud Shakeel would provide more strength.

The side has two spinner all-rounders in Shadab Khan and Mohammed Nawaz. Agha and Ahmed can also chip in spin bowling as can Usama Mir, who has played just eight one-day internationals so far.

The team’s renowned pace battery will feature Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Mohammed Waseem besides Ali.

Here is Pakistan squad for World Cup 2023: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Mohammad Rizwan (wicket-keeper), Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Nawaz, Saud Shakeel, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Usama Mir.

Pakistan will play two warm-up games — against New Zealand and Australia — before the World Cup in which their first match will be against the Netherlands in Hyderabad on October 6.

Pakistan last made the semi-final of the cricket World Cup in 2011 when they lost to arch-rivals India in Mohali, Punjab.

Mohammed Hafiz, Inzamam-ul-Haq episode

Pakistan cricket witnessed drama on the eve of the announcement of the World Cup squad as former captain Mohammad Hafeez quit the Pakistan Cricket Board’s Cricket Technical Committee in the wake of a review of the team’s unimpressive performance in the Asia Cup.

The review meeting was attended by PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf, Azam, head coach Grant Bradburn, chief operating officer Salman Nasser, Head of International Cricket Usman Wahla and former captain Misbah ul Haq.

Hafeez revealed his decision to leave the committee on X where in a post he thanked Ashraf for giving him the opportunity.

“I decided to leave Pakistan cricket technical committee. I served as honorary member. I would like to thank Zaka Ashraf sb for giving me this opportunity. I m always available whenever Zaka Ashraf sb need my honest suggestions for Pakistan cricket. My best wishes for Pakistan cricket as always. Pakistan Zindabad,” Hafeez wrote.

Inzamam-ul-Haq was also conspicuous by his absence at the meeting.

According to PTI, Inzamam opted to stay away from the meeting since he was not convinced it was the right time to do such an exercise as the World Cup was nearing.

“Inzamam having been a former captain and top cricketer himself, made it clear he was not happy with the review process as this was the time to encourage and boost the team instead of putting them through an inquisition and showing distrust in their abilities,” the report cited a source as saying.

(With inputs from Dawn, agencies)

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