Fast-bowler Haris Rauf was also selected based on his stellar form
Pakistan have recalled veteran all-rounders Shoaib Malik and Muhammad Hafeez in the 15-man squad for the three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) against Bangladesh, which will be played in Lahore at the Gaddafi Stadium.
The first T20I will be played on January 24, with the second being played just a day after on January 25 and the last match will be played after one-day gap on January 27.
The matches are a part of series which is divided into three phases. Bangladesh will leave after three-T20Is series and then return afterwards for the first Test of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test Championship. They will leave again only to return to Pakistan after Pakistan Super League’s (PSL’s) fifth edition to play one-off ODI and the second Test.
The 15-man squad, which was announced by Pakistan head coach-cum-chief selector Misbahul Haq and Babar on Thursday, also includes the uncapped trio of Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt and Haris Rauf.
“26-year-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,” read a PCB press release.
The newly announced squad basically omitted seven players from the previous line-up, which lost 2-0 to Australia. “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,” the PCB press release said.
Misbah said eight defeats in last nine T20Is forced him to make drastic changes to the squad. “We have lost eight of our last nine T20Is and as the number-one ranked side, this 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.”
Former skipper then termed squads he pitted against Sri Lanka and Australia as ‘alternate combinations’ and said the mixture of experience and youth is important. ““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.”
Meanwhile, Babar was happy to see the returns of Malik and Hafeez. “I am happy with the selected squad and want to thank the selection committee for entertaining my request for Hafeez and 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.”
Pakistan’s 15-man squad:
Babar Azam (c), Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Muhammad Hafeez, Muhammad Husnain, Muhammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Usman Qadir