Fast bowler Mohammad Amir has been omitted from Pakistan’s 15-man preliminary squad for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, but has been included for their ODI series against England.
The big-hitting Asif Ali is also part of the 17 to face England but not the 15 to contest the World Cup. Both could yet feature in the global tournament, with Pakistan having until 23 May to finalise their squad.
Amir starred the last time Pakistan visited England, claiming an excellent 3/16 in six overs as his side defeated India to seal the cup. However, he has gone wicketless in nine out of 14 ODIs played since.
Elsewhere, Abid Ali was preferred to Shan Masood as Pakistan's back-up opener. The former has played only two ODIs, both in Pakistan's recent clean-sweep by Australia, and scored a hundred on debut. The latter also debuted in that series, and made a half-century in its final game, but managed just 61 runs in four innings apart from that.
As expected, Pakistan have included the teenage fast-bowling duo of Mohammad Hasnain and Shaheen Shah Afridi, each of whom were born since the turn of the century. The former was rated by Shane Watson as the fastest 18-year-old he'd ever faced during the Pakistan Super League, while the latter is by now a relative veteran, having shot to prominence during the Under 19 Cricket World Cup 2018, and taken 32 wickets in 19 limited-overs internationals until now, at an average of less than 20.
"Hasnain has been selected due to his sheer pace and speed," said Inzamam-ul-Haq, chairman of Pakistan's men's selection committee. "He may not have played many ODIs but he has already made an impact by making the top batsmen hop and run in his brief career while also picking up wickets."
They have also included two very experienced players, with each of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez having featured at the Men's Cricket World Cup 2007. “Shoaib Malik and Hafeez have played in World Cups before, which makes them experienced and qualified to provide the required stability to the middle-order," said Inzamam.
"Hafeez has not played any cricket for the past 10-odd weeks, but he has always featured in our plans. Although his inclusion in the World Cup squad is subject to fitness, yesterday we got a boost when he started playing with tennis ball with his doctor confirming he will be available for selection for the series against England. Our World Cup opener is on 31 May against the Windies, which is still six weeks away, and we are confident he will be fully fit and ready to display his vast international experience."
Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari and Yasir Shah are the other players named in a list of 23 probables to miss out.
“In England and Wales, conditions play a critical role. With this in mind, we have selected a three-dimensional side, which gives the captain a wide range of options of whatever game plan he chooses on a match day," said Inzamam. “We have experienced batters, who are backed up by bowlers with plenty of variety and variation to exploit any type of conditions.
“This is more or less the side we have been playing since the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. I have absolute trust that this side has grown further in experience and stature since 2017. Supported by flair, skill, talent and killer-instinct, this side has the capability and potential to rise to the occasion and produce strong performances.”
World Cup squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk, c), Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shoaib Malik
Additions for England series: Mohammad Amir, Asif Ali