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Haris Rauf earns maiden call-up for Bangladesh T20Is
Pakistan News

Haris Rauf earns maiden call-up for Bangladesh T20Is

Haris Rauf has been rewarded for his sensational run in the ongoing Big Bash League by earning a place in Pakistan's 15-member squad for the upcoming Bangladesh T20Is.

Veterans Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik have also been included in the revamped line-up, which received a 2-0 hammering at the hands of Australia in their previous assignment.

Although Pakistan has a flimsy grip on the No. 1 position in the T20I standings for teams, they have endured a number of losses over the past year triggering the wholesale changes by the selection committee.

“We have lost eight of our last nine T20Is and as the number-one ranked side, this is unacceptable," Pakistan head coach-cum-chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq stated while announcing the squad.

"We need to end our losing cycle and get back to winning habits leading into the upcoming Asia Cup and ICC T20 World Cup. This has played a critical role in our decision-making."

Among the four debutants named in Pakistan's new-look T20I unit is leg-spinner Usman Qadir, who has managed to retain his spot in the side despite not getting a game in the Australia tour.

Opening batsman Ahsan Ali and all-rounder Amad Butt have made their way into the Pakistan team for the first time in their respective careers following stellar performances in the National T20 Cup in October.

Pakistan Squad

Babar Azam, Ahsan Ali, Ammad Butt, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah, Shoaib Malik, Usman Qadir

Ahsan, who plays for Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League, racked up 131 runs across five matches in the domestic T20 competition at a steep strike rate of 148.86.

Amad has been on the selection radar for a while and was the joint-third highest wicket-taker in the National T20 Cup, propelling him into the limelight.

The long list of excluded players comprises of Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Amir, Asif Ali, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz.

The omission of Amir, in particular, has grabbed attention since he recently made the headlines for his record six-wicket haul in the Bangladesh Premier League qualifier between Rajshahi Kings and Khulna Tigers.

Shedding light on the plight of the dropped players, Misbah said: “The seven players who have missed out on selection are by no means out of our planning but considering their recent form in international cricket and taking into account other strong performances in our National T20 Cup, we have decided to make these changes."

“The high-pressure and quality HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 is starting in four weeks’ time and if they can reclaim their winning form, then they will be back in contention for the upcoming assignments, including the Asia Cup and ICC Men’s T20 World Cup."

'The return of Malik and Hafeez gives us experience' - Misbah

Malik and Hafeez last turned out for Pakistan during the ICC World Cup in England and Wales.

The senior duo was then overlooked for selection in the subsequent white-ball series against Sri Lanka and Australia.

While being deprived of an opportunity on the international stage, Malik has been engaged in various T20 stints, most prominently captaining Guyana Amazon Warriors to 11 consecutive wins in the Caribbean Premier League.

Talking about the imminent comeback of the experienced pair, Misbah said this bolstered the team's depth.

“We tried our alternate combinations in the series against Sri Lanka and Australia, and obviously, these didn’t work the way we had expected. Hafeez and Shoaib bring a total of 200 T20Is between them and if you mix these with the other youngsters we have in the side, then I think it becomes a good blend of experience and youth."

Seated alongside Misbah, T20 skipper Babar Azam admitted the decision to call up the two individuals was taken upon his suggestion.

“I am happy with the selected squad and want to thank the selection committee for entertaining my request for Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik. I believe they still have plenty to offer to Pakistan cricket in the shortest format and their experience can be critical to our performances in the upcoming series," Babar said.