Sarfaraz Ahmed returns to Pakistan’s T20 squad for the first time since losing the captaincy last year. The 17-man squad named by head coach Misbah-ul-Haq for the three-match T20I series in England also retains Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, who were recalled to the T20 side for a three-match series against Bangladesh at home in January.
Several players who were part of the bubble without playing a role in the Test series have been included, with Haider Ali, Haris Rauf and Wahab Riaz all drafted in. Fakhar Zaman has also been recalled, while Shan Masood, who finished as the third-highest Pakistani runscorer at the PSL behind Babar Azam and Shadab Khan – and captained Multan Sultans to a first-place group stage finish – has been left out.
This is the first time since Misbah-ul-Haq took over as chief selector that a T20 squad retains many of the core components of the preceding one. The squads he named for series against Sri Lanka, Australia, and then Bangladesh involved several rejigs, with players like Umar Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Irfan and Usman Qadir brought in from the cold only to be dropped, but 11 of the 17 players chosen for the upcoming series were also part of the T20Is against Bangladesh. Mohammad Amir and Naseem Shah are notable recalls, while Ahsan Ali and Mohammad Musa do not make the cut.
“This is mostly the same team which has been featuring in the shortest format for us,” Misbah said. “Besides retaining the core, we have inducted youngsters like Haider Ali, who has performed well in the HBL PSL, U-19 and first-class cricket, and Naseem Shah as we had an opportunity to keep a bigger pool due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which also increases our options. Our two experienced bowlers in Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz have also returned to the side, along with Fakhar Zaman and Sarfaraz Ahmed.
“Usually, the T20I team comes together for a brief period but due to the current situation most of the players have been here with us for more than a month and it has provided us a good opportunity to work on the development of the team and the young players. So, even the players who might not get an opportunity to play will benefit from the experience they are getting here.
“It is going to be a competitive series as England are a strong side. We are looking forward to play good cricket and win the series.”
Babar Azam will captain the T20I side, a role he has assumed since Pakistan’s tour of Australia in November last year. Pakistan have not won a bilateral away series against a Full Member since January 2018, when they beat New Zealand 2-1. All three T20Is will be played at Old Trafford, with the first taking place on August 28.