Teenage fast-bowling sensation Naseem Shah has been included in Pakistan's 18-member national contract list for 2020/21 while Babar Azam has been named the ODI captain.
The Pakistan Cricket Board also confirmed Azhar Ali as Test captain and Babar, who already had the T20I captaincy, has been handed over the reins for ODIs as well.
Along with Naseem, the other new face included in the list, which comes into effect from 1 July, is right-handed batsman Iftikhar Ahmed. Shaheen Shah Afridi, a terrific fast-bowling talent has been promoted to the 'A' category. The other three players to receive promotions are Abid Ali, Mohammad Rizwan and Shan Masood – all moving up to Category B.
"The philosophy and criteria for this merit-based central contract list was simple and straightforward: the selectors reviewed player performances in the past 12 months and then looked ahead to our team requirements in the forthcoming 12 months," said Pakistan men’s national team chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq.
"I want to congratulate Azhar Ali and Babar Azam for getting captaincy extensions. This is absolutely the right decision as they also require certainty and clarity on their future roles. I am sure they will now start looking to the future and start planning so that they can build sides that can perform at the expected levels.
"The selectors have made the tough decisions to leave out Amir, Hasan and Wahab but considering Hasan missed most of the season due to an injury and Amir and Wahab decided to focus on white-ball cricket, this was the right move. However, Amir and Wahab are senior and experienced bowlers and they remain in contention as we believe they can still contribute to the Pakistan men’s cricket team and also mentor our young battery of fast bowlers."
Former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has been placed in category B with Misbah explaining that the veteran's experience will come handy for Pakistan in near future. "Sarfaraz has been placed in Category B as he very much features in our future plans." he said.
"We have some tough cricket lined up over the next 12 months where we will potentially require Sarfaraz’s knowledge and experience."
Furthermore, and as part of its commitment and strategy to reward high-performing young cricketers, the PCB has also created a new Emerging Players’ Category, which includes Haider Ali and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain.
PCB Men’s Central Contract List for 2020-21:
Category A: Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Shaheen Shah Afridi
Category B: Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah
Category C: Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Naseem Shah, Usman Shinwari
Emerging Players’ Category: Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain