Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has dismissed the notion in media circles about pulling out Naseem Shah from Pakistan Under-19 squad for the ICC U-19 World Cup because of doubts over his actual age.
Naseem was initially part of the plans for the marquee tournament but was later withdrawn after national team management put out a request to not consider him for the U19 World Cup as they wanted to keep the prodigy in the pace arsenal for the Bangladesh Test series—which hasn't been finalized yet.
PCB unequivocally stated that as part of their standard operating procedure, a routine age verification process was carried out of all players who were in contention to be picked in the U-19 squad in December.
Furthermore, PCB states Naseem was eligible to play the upcoming Under-19 World Cup and the decision of not releasing him for the big tournament was not influenced by considering any reservations over going against International Cricket Council's (ICC) guidelines.
The PCB made it clear that the reason why Naseem was withdrawn from the squad was solely based on senior team management's request who wanted to prepare him for upcoming international assignments and what PCB described as 'pure cricketing reasons'.
"Naseem had been withdrawn from the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup on the request of the Pakistan men’s senior team management purely on cricketing reasons," PCB said in a statement.
PCB officials are not delighted by the suggestions in media regarding any murky rules of the governing body of cricket when it comes to the selection of players and they expressed their dismay in the press release, referring it as slanderous material against the quick bowler.
"In this background, the PCB is disappointed that an attempt has been made to tarnish the credibility and reputation of an emerging fast-bowler with a bright future ahead."
The controversy surrounding the rising star's age escalated after the U-19 team was announced for the all-important World Cup. Ijaz Ahmed, U-19 team coach, was very keen on having the services of the talented fast bowler in his side to bolster the pace attack but he didn't get his wish.
There were questions raised in Australia series concerning his age and PCB dismissed them back then as well.
Right arm pacer hailing from North Waziristan, Mohammad Wasim jr was named Naseem's replacement in the U19 squad.
The 16-year-old phenom is steadily improving since his debut Down-Under and he recently took a match-winning fifer against Sri Lanka in the second Test at National Stadium, Karachi.