In a notable shift that hints at the winds of change sweeping through Pakistan’s cricketing corridors, the unveiling of the squad for the upcoming ODIs against Afghanistan and the Asia Cup emerges as a significant juncture in the nation’s cricketing journey. The selection, masterminded by the newly appointed chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, showcases a blend of seasoned campaigners and emerging talents, setting the stage for a compelling narrative that will unfold on the international cricketing canvas
Shan Masood makes way for Saud Shakeel
A pivotal announcement resonates with the omission of Shan Masood, who was entrusted with the role of ODI vice-captain earlier this year. His absence from both squads marks a decision that reflects a recalibration of Pakistan’s strategy. Alongside Masood, Haris Sohail and Ihsanullah also miss out, shaping an opportunity for fresh faces to make their mark.
Saud Shakeel, who left an indelible mark with his performances in the recent Test series in Sri Lanka, finds himself in the spotlight again. His inclusion in the 18-man squad for the ODIs against Afghanistan mirrors Pakistan’s intent to nurture versatile cricketers who can transition effectively across formats. Despite limited exposure in ODIs, Shakeel’s prowess makes him a name to watch in the coming contests.
Faheem ‘Allrounder’ Ashraf
The return of Faheem Ashraf after a hiatus of more than two years adds an intriguing dimension to the squad. The chief selector’s emphasis on Faheem’s role as a fast-bowling allrounder underlines Pakistan’s quest for balance. Inzamam’s words, “We need an allrounder,” resonates as a glimpse into the tactical intricacies that play a crucial role in shaping the team’s composition.
With the squad set to assemble in Hambantota on August 18, a three-day camp from August 14 to 16 at the National Cricket Academy, Lahore, heralds the commencement of a rigorous preparatory phase. As the cricketers gear up to script their stories on the field, Inzamam’s assertion that the World Cup selection is not set in stone reflects a pragmatic approach. The selectors’ open-mindedness to infuse fresh talent and adapt to evolving circumstances resonates as a signpost to a forward-thinking selection philosophy.
With the Afghanistan series and the Asia Cup on the horizon, Pakistan’s journey towards the ODI World Cup takes centre stage. As the clock ticks towards the announcement of the 15-man World Cup squad by September 5, the selectors’ task remains intricate yet invigorating. The blend of experience and youth, underpinned by a vision for the future, reflects a nation’s pursuit of cricketing excellence on the global stage.
Pakistan ODI squad for Asia Cup (tentative) and Afghanistan Series:
Babar Azam (capt), Shadab Khan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Saud Shakeel, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Tayyab Tahir, Mohammad Haris (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Wasim