Abdullah Shafique included in Pakistan squad for Zimbabwe limited-overs series

Shafique scored 358 runs in 10 matches at a strike rate of 133 for Central Punjab

Abdullah Shafique included in Pakistan squad for Zimbabwe limited-overs series PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

One of the star performers of the recently concluded National T20 Cup, Abdullah Shafique, has been included in Pakistan’s squad for the upcoming limited-overs home series against Zimbabwe.

Shafique scored 358 runs in 10 matches at a strike rate of 133 for Central Punjab during the event. He also scored a century on his T20 debut, becoming only the second player in history to make a century on both first-class and T20 debuts.

Head coach and chief selector Misbahul Haq named 22 probables for the ODI and T20I series against Zimbabwe, insisting he has opted for experience in the 50-over matches and provided extended run to the youngsters in the T20I format.

“Abdullah Shafiq has been rewarded for his tremendous potential and performance. He has been identified as a future prospect and, therefore, drafted into the squad as part of his development,” said Misbah.

Pakistan have not played ODIs since the home series against Sri Lanka 12 months ago and the Rawalpindi matches will be part of ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League from which the seven top-ranked sides, apart from hosts India, will qualify directly for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.

For the Lahore T20Is, the selectors have preferred continuity and consistency, while acknowledging the just concluded National T20 Cup had provided some exciting talent, which will be considered for the Pakistan and Shaheens’ next month tour to New Zealand and early next year’s home T20Is.

Shoaib Malik, who was player of the final, has made way for Abdullah Shafique, while Rohail Nazir has been named as Mohammad Rizwan’s back-up wicketkeeper. Sarfaraz Ahmed, who was part of the squad for the England tour, has been encouraged to feature in the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, starting October 25, so that he rediscovers better form ahead of the New Zealand tour.

“Seniors like Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed have not been picked for this series, but I want to categorically state that their careers are not over by any means as performance remains the only criterion for selection. These are strategic decisions as Shoaib’s absence will provide players like Abdullah Shafiq, Haider Ali and Khushdil Shah better chances of featuring in the upcoming matches,” he said.

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Fast-bowlers Hasan Ali and Naseem Shah were not considered for selection as they are recovering from injuries, but have been advised to play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy to prove their fitness before they are considered for selection.

The probables will assemble in Lahore on October 21 for Covid-19 testing and after observing a five-day isolation period, during which they will play two 50-over matches at the Gaddafi Stadium, will travel to Rawalpindi on Monday, October 26.

The probables for three T20Is will be shortlisted after the ODIs and players unlikely to feature in them will be advised to play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy third round matches, which will commence from November 6.

Pakistan probables for ODIs and T20Is:

Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafiq, Abid Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Rohail Nazir, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz and Zafar Gohar

Series schedule (ODIs to start 1200, T20Is to commence 1530):

Oct 30 – 1st ODI, Rawalpindi.

Nov 1 – 2nd ODI, Rawalpindi.

Nov 3 – 3rd ODI, Rawalpindi.

Nov 7 – 1st T20I, Lahore.

Nov 8 – 2nd T20I, Lahore.

Nov 10 – 3rd T20I, Lahore.