Karachi-born 20-year-old Saim will open with Mohammad Haris
Pakistan have named a dynamic XI for the first of the three T20Is against Afghanistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday. Opener Saim Ayub, middle-order batter Tayyab Tahir and right-arm quicks Zaman Khan and Ihsanullah will make Pakistan debuts.
Top-order batter Abdullah Shafique, all-rounders Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim, and Azam Khan mark their returns to the Pakistan side.
These eight players were named in the 15-member squad for this T20I series after a string of impressive performances in the domestic circuit and the recently-concluded HBL Pakistan Super League 8. The series comes with an opportunity for these players to carry their form in international cricket.
Pakistan XI for first Afghanistan T20I: Saim Ayub, Mohammad Haris, Abdullah Shafique, Tayyab Tahir, Shadab Khan (c), Azam Khan (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Zaman Khan and Ihsanullah
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Karachi-born 20-year-old Saim will open with Mohammad Haris, who has played five T20Is for Pakistan and announced his arrival in the last ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia with his blazing strokeplay and bold intent, and has batted with him in Peshawar Zalmi during the HBL PSL 8. Saim comes into the side after a highly impressive run for Sindh and Peshawar Zalmi.
Abdullah and Tayyab make number three and four respectively. Abdullah, who has played three T20Is with his last being in December 2020 in New Zealand, comes into the side after making 268 runs at 144.08 for champions Lahore Qalandars.
Tayyab has been in good touch over the last year. He marked his HBL PSL 8 debut with a whirlwind 65 and made 137 runs at 144.21 and was the best batter of the Pakistan Cup, that concluded in January.
The middle-order comprises of captain Shadab Khan, Azam, Faheem and Imad.
Azam scored 282 runs at a staggering 161.14 for Islamabad United this HBL PSL. His highest score of 97 came against Quetta Gladiators at the National Stadium Karachi. This will be 24-year-old’s fourth T20I.
Faheem, Azam’s HBL PSL teammate, provided balance to the side with his contributions with bat and ball. He made 215 runs at 149.30 and took eight wickets at an economy of 9.50 – in a league that has had the best run rate (9.20) in the last one year for any major T20 tournament around the world.
Imad’s nine wickets for Karachi Kings came at an average of 28.22 and an economy of 7.93, but it was his sensational batting that turned heads as the left-hander scored 404 runs at a phenomenal average of 134.66 and a staggering strike rate of 170.46.
Experienced speedster Naseem Shah will spearhead the pace attack that includes newcomers Zaman and Ihsanullah.
Zaman was outstanding with the new and old ball in the Powerplay and death overs and he is expected to execute the same role in Pakistan colours on Friday.
In Ihsanullah, Pakistan have a reliable pace bowler to carry them through the middle-overs. The right-arm pacer’s thunderbolts kept batters on backfoot throughout the HBL PSL 8 as he peppered every opposition with lethal bouncers.