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Shoaib Malik unlikely to feature in Zimbabwe T20I series

Khushdil Shah and Abdullah Shafique are ahead in the pecking order

PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

Veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik is likely to be dropped for the upcoming three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series against Zimbabwe on home soil.

According to sources, Malik, who has scored 177 runs at a strike rate of 128 in the ongoing National T20 Cup, could be replaced in the playing XI by left-hander Khushdil Shah — who scored the fastest century by a Pakistan player in T20 Cricket, off just 35 balls, while playing for Southern Punjab.

Shah, who made his T20I debut against Australia in Perth in 2019, did not feature in any of the matches on the last England tour despite being part of the squad.

Central Punjab’s Abdullah Shafique, who is the third highest run-scorer in National T20 Cup with 358 runs, is also likely to be included in the squad.

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Meanwhile, opener Fakhar Zaman, pacer Wahab Riaz and wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed could be rested for the series but discussions in this regard are ongoing.  

Despite being in good form with the bat, all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez could also be sidelined for the series as the PCB’s top brass is unhappy with him over meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan for resumption of departmental cricket.

Sources further reveled that Misbah, chief selector, has been closely following the National T20 Cup and even asked coaches to play and change batting order of certain players during the tournament. One example of this was wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan, who was asked to play in the top-order and is likely to be regularly feature in the Zimbabwe series as well.  

Misbah has already stated that Pakistan’s limited-overs squads for the home series against Zimbabwe will be named on October 19, once the National T20 Cup has concluded.

Pakistan will launch its bid to qualify directly for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 by taking on Zimbabwe in the three ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League matches in Rawalpindi on October 30, November 1 and 3.

Meanwhile, Lahore will stage the three T20Is on November 7, 8 and 10. These matches were initially planned to take place in Rawalpindi.