Fast bowler Mohammad Amir and wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan made a comeback in the national squad as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday announced a 16-member squad for the upcoming ODI series against South Africa.
There are five changes from the Test side, which is presently in Johannesburg preparing for the third and final Test. Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas and Yasir Shah have been replaced by Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Hussain Talat, Usman Shinwari and Imad Wasim, respectively.
The side will be led by Sarfraz Ahmed and includes three openers (Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood), four middle-order batsmen (Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Hussain Talat), two all-rounders (Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf), one spinner (Shadab Khan), four fast bowlers (Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi and Usman Shinwari) and Mohammad Rizwan as the second wicketkeeper/batsman.
There are three changes from the 15-man ODI side, which drew with New Zealand in the UAE after the final ODI was washed out. Asif Ali, Haris Sohail and Junaid Khan have been replaced by Mohammad Amir, Hussain Talat, Mohammad Rizwan and Shan Masood.
“The selected team is a unanimous choice of the selection panel, including Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed and Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur. While selecting the squad, we have tried to maintain consistency, taking into consideration player performances in white-ball cricket as well as looking ahead to the upcoming ODI challenges, including the World Cup,” chairman of Pakistan’s cricket selectors Inzamam-ul-Haq said.
Commenting on the non-selection of fast bowler Mohammad Abbas, Inzamam said: “He is very much in our scheme of things, but we have to manage his workload intelligently and smartly. He has just made a return following an injury, and we would like to give him sufficient rest before considering him for future assignments.
“Amir’s good performance in the Test series not only made him an automatic selection, but also helped us in the decision to rest Abbas.
“Junaid Khan has not been considered for this tour because we feel he has to work more on his bowling since the fitness issues that he had cut short his series against New Zealand.
“Asif Ali has been dropped due to an inconsistent and below-par performance. In his place, we have decided to give Hussain Talat an opportunity to show his mettle and skills. He is a good left-handed batsman, who can also bowl.”
Hussain is the only uncapped player in the side, but he has represented Pakistan in 11 T20Is. In 59 List-A 50-over matches since making his debut in 2018, Hussain has scored 1,402 runs at just under 38. He has also picked up 14 wickets with his medium-past bowling. In the 2018-19 season, Hussain has scored 194 runs in seven matches with a century, while he took six wickets.
Inzamam added: “Before finalising the squad, we spoke with the team management, which has confirmed that all the players are fit for the ODI series.”
“I have had separate discussions with the coach and captain, and while they are disappointed with the performance in the Test series, they remain optimistic and confident that they can turn things around.
“I have complete faith and believe in the side that is presently in South Africa. It is just that it has been a tough and difficult tour for them. I have been in this situation in the past and I know exactly what they are going through.
“That said, I am confident that this tour will make them better and stronger cricketers.”
The series will start in Port Elizabeth on January 19.
Pakistan squad for ODIs:
Sarfraz Ahmed (captain, wicketkeeper)
Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper)