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Pakistan name uncapped Abdullah Shafiq among 22 'probables' to face Zimbabwe

Pakistan news

In a squad led by Babar Azam, 20-year-old Abdullah Shafiq is one of three players who are set to potentially make their international debuts in the white-ball series against Zimbabwe.

There are several high-profile omissions from the list of 22 names, with quick bowlers Hasan Ali and Naseem Shah left out after sustaining injuries; both players have been told to play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy to prove their fitness.

Also missing out on selection are Shoaib Malik – who struck a blistering 56* to be named Player of the Match in the final of the National T20 Cup – and Sarfaraz Ahmed.

Abdullah made waves early in the National T20 Cup when he struck a ton on T20 debut to complete a rare double after also registering a century on his first-class debut in December last year.

The other uncapped players in the squad are wicket-keeper Rohail Nazir, who appears likely to spend the series as understudy to first-choice keeper Mohammad Rizwan, and 27-year-old leg-spinner Usman Qadir.

Speaking after announcing the squad, Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan head coach and chief selector, was keen to send a message to those not picked that chances could still come their way over the coming months.

"The National T20 Cup saw some outstanding individual performances," the former national captain said. "A few leading performers may feel disappointed that they have been unable to break into the squad. But, I want to reassure them that they will remain in consideration for the New Zealand tour and early next year’s home series. All they now need to do is to carry those impressive run of forms in the upcoming domestic competitions.

"Furthermore, the present T20I squad already comprises youngsters who have played very few matches. As such, it is logical and sensible that we give them the support and confidence by providing them extended runs so that they can show what they are capable of at the highest level and cement their places for future assignments."

Misbah also confirmed that the hosts would be looking to pick their strongest team for every game in the ODI series, which is a part of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League, though he also suggested some experimentation could be expected in the T20Is.

"We have resisted the temptation of experimenting in the ODIs for three simple reasons. Firstly, we cannot afford to be complacent and have to respect each and every opponent irrespective of their strength or international ranking. Secondly, every ODI counts as it leads towards automatic qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, and thirdly, we have not played any ODI cricket in the past 12 months."

Probables: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan (vc), Abdullah Shafiq, Abid Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Rohail Nazir, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz and Zafar Gohar.

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