Pakistan has unveiled its formidable 17-member squad for the upcoming T20 International (T20I) series against New Zealand, featuring a mix of experienced players and promising newcomers. The selection committee, led by Wahab Riaz, has brought forth a blend of skill, talent, and youth as the team prepares for the ICC T20 World Cup 2024.
Key Inclusions and Leadership:
Right-arm pacer Mohammad Abbas Afridi, wicketkeeper-batter Haseebullah, and leg-spinner Usama Mir earned their maiden call-ups, impressing selectors with their stellar performances during the domestic season. The returning Sahibzada Farhan, known for his T20 prowess, adds depth to the squad. Notably, Shaheen Shah Afridi will be captaining the team for the first time, leading a squad with its eyes set on the T20 World Cup.
Preparations and Tour Details:
The T20I tour of New Zealand is slated to comprise five matches, taking place from January 12 to January 21, 2024, across Auckland, Hamilton, Dunedin, and Christchurch. The series serves as a crucial starting point for Pakistan’s preparations for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup in June 2024. The squad will depart for New Zealand from Lahore on January 3, with players currently in Australia for the Test series joining them on January 8.
Emerging Talents and Top Performers:
Mohammad Abbas Afridi, the top wicket-taker in the National T20 Cup, and Usama Mir, who earned his maiden T20I call-up after making his ODI debut this year, add depth to the bowling unit. Haseebullah, declared player of the tournament in this year’s Pakistan Cup, showcases the rising talent with both the bat and the gloves.
Notable Absences and Rested Players:
Injuries ruled out Naseem Shah, Ihsanullah, and Shadab Khan from the squad. Rest has been afforded to Mohammad Haris, Shan Masood, and Faheem Ashraf, who were part of the last bilateral series.
Wahab Riaz, the chief selector, emphasized the importance of nurturing young talent and building back-ups for the national team. The inclusion of emerging players reflects a strategic approach to exploring and promoting domestic performers.
Training Camp and Additional Players:
The selected players will assemble for a training camp from December 28, 2023, to January 3, 2024, in Lahore. Nine additional players, including Mohammad Haris, Arif Yaqoob, and Mohammad Amir Khan, have been called up to the camp.
Pakistan Squad For for New Zealand T20I Series:
Shaheen Shah Afridi (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abbas Afridi, Azam Khan (wicket-keeper), Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haseebullah (wicket-keeper), Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wicket-keeper), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sahibzada Farhan, Saim Ayub, Usama Mir, and Zaman Khan.
The announced squad promises an exciting blend of experience and fresh talent as Pakistan gears up for a challenging T20I series in New Zealand. With an eye on the ICC T20 World Cup, the team under the captaincy of Shaheen Shah Afridi embarks on a mission to showcase their prowess on the international stage. Cricket enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the exhilarating performances that this star-studded lineup and emerging talent will bring to the cricketing arena.
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