Two big returns as Pakistan announce squad for the T20I series against New Zealand

Pakistan have announced their 17-member squad for the five-match T20I series against New Zealand, starting 18 April.

Babar Azam is back at the helm as the captain of Pakistan in the white-ball formats and will lead the team in the upcoming series against New Zealand at home.

The squad also marks the comeback of Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim, who both reversed their retirement decision to make themselves available for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.

Haris Rauf, who was recently reinstated in Pakistan's central contract list, failed to make the cut as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury that cut short his Pakistan Super League (PSL) campaign.

Squad: Babar Azam (c), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Irfan Khan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Usama Mir, Usman Khan, Zaman Khan.

Non-travelling reserves: Haseebullah Khan, Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Sahibzada Farhan, Salman Ali Agha.

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Speaking on the return of Amir and Imad, newly-appointed senior team manager Wahab Riaz said: “The decision to include Imad Wasim and Mohammad Amir was a straightforward one, given their availability for selection and considering Haris Rauf's injury and Mohammad Nawaz's current form.

"Both Amir and Imad possess undeniable match-winning capabilities, and we trust they will consistently deliver strong performances to bolster the team's objectives."

“As we prepare for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 in the USA and West Indies, this series holds significant importance for Pakistan. Rather than solely focusing on the formidable New Zealand side, we aim to introspect and identify areas for improvement. I anticipate that players will seize the opportunities presented to strengthen their claims for the World Cup.”

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Pakistan have also revamped their coaching staff for the upcoming assignment, with former all-rounder Azhar Mahmood appointed as the head coach for the five-match series.

He will be flanked by Mohammad Yousuf (batting coach) and Saeed Ajmal (spin-bowling coach) while Wahab Riaz, who was the chief selector, now assumes the role of team manager.

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The Pakistan team have amped up their preparation for the five-match series as well as the T20 World Cup with a 29-member fitness camp in Kakul, Abbottabad that started on 26 March and concluded on 8 April.

Babar’s men have a packed schedule heading into the T20 World Cup, leaving no stone unturned in their preparation for the mega-event. After the New Zealand series, Pakistan will travel to Ireland for a three-match T20I series starting 10 May after which they will face off against defending champions England in four T20Is.

New Zealand series schedule:

18 April – 1st T20I, Rawalpindi
20 April – 2nd T20I, Rawalpindi
21 April – 3rd T20I, Rawalpindi
25 April – 4th T20I, Lahore
27 April – 5th T20I, Lahore

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