Fast bowler Muhammad Aamir has been dropped from the World Cup squad as chief selector Inzimamul Haq announced the 15-member team in a press conference on Thursday.
Junaid Khan, Muhammad Hasnain, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hassan Ali are expected to lead the Pakistani pace attack.
All-rounder Muhammad Hafeez’s availability in the squad is subjected to his fitness, said the chief selector. Meanwhile, Abid Ali has been chosen as a third opener in the squad.
“Aamir is an experienced bowler but unfortunately, his performance has not been as per par from last one year. I pray that he gets his rhythm back as seen in Champions Trophy final,” Inzimam said.
Aamir and Asif Ali will accompany the team for the upcoming bilateral series against England, the chief selector announced.
The selector admitted that ‘a little favour’ was given to Imad Wasim as despite failing the fitness test he was selected for the World Cup squad.
All World Cup-bound players will take part in further training sessions and attend open media sessions at the Gaddafi Stadium on April 20 and 21.
Here are the five main talking points from the announcement:
No Mohammad Amir… yet
Mohammad Amir has experienced enough ups and downs to fill a whole 15-man squad’s worth of careers. Being left out of Pakistan’s preliminary squad for the World Cup is quite a turnaround for a player who less than two years ago was Player of the Match as his side astonishingly claimed the Champions Trophy against India.
Since then, he has gone wicketless in nine out of the 14 ODIs he has played, and averaged an eyewatering 92.60 with the ball. It’s been quite some fall from grace.
No Rizwan, at all! Was Rizwan unlucky to be left out?
While Amir missed out only in part, one player omitted altogether is Mohammad Rizwan, who has deputised for Sarfaraz Ahmed in recent times behind the sticks.
Given that he scored two centuries in Pakistan’s 5-0 series defeat to Australia, he has reason to feel hard done by. That decision also leaves Pakistan without a true back-up keeper.
The rise of the young pacers
Mohammad Hasnain would be the youngest player named in a World Cup squad so far, were it not for the fact that Shaheen Shah Afridi, also picked by Pakistan, was a day younger.
The two have much else in common; they’re raw, precocious, and rapid. Both were born this Millennium. Makes you feel old doesn’t it?
The revenge of the old stagers
Forgoing the passage of time altogether appear to be Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Hafeez, each of whom played in the 2007 World Cup, 12 years ago. Each are closer 40 than 30, and remain as vital to Pakistan’s hopes than ever; they’ve seen it all, and can offer vital guiding hands to the young upstarts in the squad.
Don’t miss England v Pakistan
Amir will, however, have one last chance to show he can cut it before the cut-off for World Cup squad finalisation. He, along with the big-hitting Asif Ali, have been included for next month’s ODI series and one-off T20I against England. A clutch of strong performances, and each could yet force their way back into the reckoning.
Pakistan Squad for World Cup:
Sarfaraz Ahmed (C), Fakhar Zaman, Imamul Haq, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Junaid Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain.
(With inputs from ICC / AFP)