The Pakistan Cricket Board has opted to withdraw tearaway speedster Naseem Shah from Pakistan's squad for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup scheduled to commence on January 17.
Naseem had earlier been named in Pakistan's squad but reports emerged of the senior selection committee unwilling to send the fast bowler back to age-group cricket.
The 16-year-old has already graduated to the highest level after playing a key role in Pakistan's thumping win over Sri Lanka to help his side to a historic series triumph on home soil.
Naseem was instrumental in hastening Sri Lanka's collapse in the second innings and became the youngest paceman to take a five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
His inclusion in the U19 set-up thus drew criticism from several members of the cricket fraternity given the fact that the World Cup assignment could burden the young quick.
He will not travel with the U19 contingent to South Africa and will instead work on his bowling under the tutelage of bowling coach Waqar Younis.
“The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup is a stepping stone for future stars and a platform for budding youngsters to graduate to international cricket. Naseem has recently broken that glass ceiling and has established his credentials as an international cricketer," PCB chief executive Wasim Khan said.
“As such, the PCB has taken a pragmatic approach and decided to withdraw him from next year’s competition to provide this opportunity to another promising cricketer so that he can show his mettle and potential at a global stage.
“This should not deter Pakistan’s chances at next year’s ICC U19 Cricket World Cup as the selectors have picked a side that is experienced and bubbling with confidence to perform strongly."
“Naseem will now remain in Pakistan and continue to work on his skills under the watchful eyes of bowling coach Waqar Younis. Furthermore, he will remain available for the home series against Bangladesh," he added.
Pakistan have called up Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Mohammad Wasim Jnr as a replacement for Naseem.
Pakistan, victors of the 2004 and 2006 editions of the U19 World Cup, will kick off their campaign on January 19 against Scotland.
The two teams are grouped alongside Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the 16-team competition.