Pakistan Cricket Board has announced their 15-man squad for the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 in UAE and Oman, which is scheduled to begin on October 17. The selectors have axed former Pakistan captains Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik, and surprised everyone by including wicketkeeper-batsman Azam Khan.
The PCB on Monday announced their 15-member squad for the ICC T20 World Cup in UAE. Having already qualified to the Super 12, Pakistan will start the campaign by battling against their arch-rival India on October 24 in Dubai. Babar Azam and his men will also play T20I series against New Zealand and England ahead of the tournament, which is scheduled to begin on October 17.
Pakistan surprised everyone by including young wicketkeeper-batsman Azam Khan, who made his debut for the national side against England. Azam played three matches in the series, but could not make an impact as he scored just six runs from two innings he batted. The 23-year-old is currently featuring in the CPL for Barbados Royals. However, an impressive strike rate of almost 150 in T20 cricket has benefited him for the World Cup selection as a backup wicketkeeper.
Chief Selector Muhammad Wasim stated that the aggressive batting style of Azam Khan will benefit the team in the tournament.
"Azam Khan is an aggressive and attacking batter who also keeps wickets, a combination that has earned him the selectors' nod ahead of Sarfaraz Ahmed,” said Muhammad Wasim after announcing the squad, reported Cricbuzz.
Wasim stated that the addition of Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah to the squad will provide more solutions for the middle-order difficulties.
“Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah may not have impressive numbers against their names but hardly anyone can doubt their tremendous talent and prowess. They are the best in the available pool of middle-order batsmen and we remain confident that they will provide us solutions to our middle-order difficulties through solid performances,” said Chief Selector Muhammad Wasim.
The Chief Selector further added that Fakhar Zaman, Shahnawaz Dahani and Usman Qadir were excluded from the squad as the selection panel preferred more all-round options for strengthening the team.
"Fakhar Zaman, Shahnawaz Dahani and Usman Qadir were unlucky to miss out on the selections. Sohaib Maqsood's ability to bat and perform anywhere in the top-order has given him an edge over Fakhar, while the presence of three experienced spinners, who are also capable batters, and five genuine wicket-taking fast bowlers made it difficult for Usman Qadir to get into the side," he added.
Other notable omissions were of former skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed and veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik. Sarfaraz has been warming the bench for the majority of matches in the past, while Shoaib has not played for his national side in the shortest format since September 2020.
The same squad selected for the ICC tournament in UAE will face New Zealand and England in the T20I series ahead of the World Cup in UAE.
T20 World Cup squad: Babar Azam (C), Shadab Khan (VC), Asif Alil, Azam Khan, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Shaheen Afridi, Sohaib Maqsood
Travelling reserves: Fakhar Zaman, Shahnawaz Dahani and Usman Qadir.