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Abdullah Shafique gets maiden call-up; Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik dropped for Zimbabwe series
Pakistan News

Abdullah Shafique gets maiden call-up; Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik dropped for Zimbabwe series

Abdullah Shafique has been rewarded for his splendid run in the National T20 Cup by earning a spot among the 22 probables for Pakistan's ODI and T20I fixtures against Zimbabwe later this month.

Meanwhile, senior players such as Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mohammad Amir have been dropped from the side with the selectors opting for several fresh faces in the extended line-up.

Zafar Gohar, who played a solitary ODI for Pakistan in 2015, has been recalled in the team along with the uncapped duo of Usman Qadir and Rohail Nazir.

Shafique shot to prominence after slamming a century on T20 debut during the opening day of the domestic T20 competition in Multan. In a memorable first competitive outing in the shortest format, Shafique hammered an unbeaten 102 off 58 deliveries to help Central Punjab achieve the mammoth target of 201.

Shafique's remarkable effort also allowed him to register a place in history by becoming only the second batsman to strike a hundred on both first-class and T20 debut.

“Abdullah Shafiq has been rewarded for his tremendous potential and performance. He has been identified as a future prospect and, therefore, drafted into the squad as part of his development," chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq said while reflecting on the new inductee.

The decision to omit the veteran trio of Malik, Sarfaraz and Amir from the team rests on the current form of the players with Misbah suggesting doors of selection were still open for them.

“Seniors like Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed have not been picked for this series, but I want to categorically state that their careers are not over by any means as performance remains the only criterion for selection.

"These are strategic decisions as Shoaib’s absence will provide players like Abdullah Shafiq, Haider Ali and Khushdil Shah better chances of featuring in the upcoming matches," he said.

"Mohammad Rizwan is the first-choice wicketkeeper in both the white-ball formats. With an eye on future and as part of the succession plan, Rohail Nazir has been chosen as Rizwan’s back-up wicketkeeper. Instead of Sarfaraz sitting on the substitute bench, it makes sense that he plays in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy so that he retains his fitness and rediscovers form for the tour for the longer and more demanding tour of New Zealand," he elaborated on the matter pertaining Sarfaraz's removal.

Naseem Shah and Hasan Ali were not available for inclusion owing to injuries but they have been asked to prove their fitness in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

The 22-man probables list is expected to be trimmed once the ODI and T20I encounters approach towards commencement. Misbah added that the ODI side would feature less experimentation and would bank more on experience due to the context of the inaugural World Cup Super League and no 50-over cricket for the home team in 12 months.

In terms of leadership, Babar Azam will captain the limited-overs sides whereas Shadab Khan has been appointed his deputy.

The first ODI between Pakistan and Zimbabwe will be held on October 30 in Rawalpindi while the Lahore T20Is will begin on November 7. Prior to the fixtures, Pakistan's probables will assemble in Lahore on October 21 and play two 50-over practice matches at the Gaddafi Stadium, before leaving for Rawalpindi on October 26.

Pakistan squad

Abdullah Shafique, Abid Ali, Babar Azam (capt), Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Rohail Nazir (wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan (vice-capt), Usman Qadir, Zafar Gohar, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Musa Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Wahab Riaz