Rizwan, Shafique likely to open innings during New Zealand T20Is

Three players are in contention to lead the side in case Shadab remains unfit

Rizwan, Shafique likely to open innings during New Zealand T20Is PHOTO: AFP/PCB

Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan and young batsman Abdullah Shafique are likely to open the innings for Pakistan during the upcoming three-match T20I series against New Zealand.

According to details, Pakistan were forced to change their opening pair as skipper Babar Azam was ruled out of New Zealand T20Is, after suffering a fracture in his right thumb during a practice session in Queenstown. Meanwhile, opener Fakhar Zaman was also not able to travel with the side to New Zealand after failing to recover in time, from fever, for the Pakistan squad’s departure for the tour.

Sources have revealed that Rizwan was set to open the innings for Pakistan, during the T20Is, even before the injury to Azam. The 28-year-old will be joined by Shafique, who scored an unbeaten 41 during his debut T20I innings against Zimbabwe recently, at the top of the order.

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Shaheens’ opener Zeeshan Malik, who scored an impressive fifty during the intra-squad practice match on Friday, could also be included in the lineup, if needed, despite not being part of the senior squad for the series.

On the other hand, Pakistan T20I vice-captain Shadab Khan is also carrying a groin niggle and the decision on his participation in the Auckland T20I, where he is set to lead the side, will be made closer to the match.

In case Shadab remains unfit, the team management is considering the names of Rizwan, who led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to National T20 Cup title, all-rounder Imad Wasim, who won the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season five with Karachi Kings, and veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez for the captaincy role.