Shaheen Afridi will lead a strong 17-member squad in the T20I bilateral series against New Zealand in early January.
Shaheen Afridi’s first assignment as full-time T20I captain will commence with the series in New Zealand beginning on 12 January, a few days after the third and final Test of the ICC World Test Championship series against Australia.
Senior all-rounder Shadab Khan, who was the vice-captain of the T20I squad in the Men’s T20 World Cup last year, misses out on selection because of an injury.
“Shadab Khan is a very important member of Pakistan T20 cricket. Unfortunately he suffered an ankle injury (during the National T20) and requires 2 further weeks of rehab. After that, he’ll be available to bowl,” Chief Selector Wahab Riaz said while announcing the squad regarding Shadab’s absence.
Several other newbies got a look in with the squad having as many as three wicketkeepers.
However, Mohammad Haris, who put in notable performances in the T20 World Cup, was ignored from the team with Riaz clarifying that he was rested to try other players who have done well in domestic cricket.
Azam Khan, one of the three wicketkeepers, came in for special mention from Riaz.
“We have watched Azam Khan very closely. At times, you have to prefer skills over fitness. If a player can win you a match, that’s more important than anything else,” Riaz said.
The big-hitting batter, son of former wicketkeeper Moin Khan, will get a run at the No.6 spot according to the chief selector.
“We’ve seen he’s a high-impact player in PSL, domestic cricket, other leagues – we’ve tried many players at No.6 so now we want to give Azam a chance,” Riaz stated.
Twenty-year-old Haseebullah Khan, who impressed in the Pakistan Super League, is the other wicketkeeper in the squad.
Fast bowlers Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah and Ihsanullah were not considered as they are recovering and regaining fitness.
Pakistan squad: Shaheen Afridi (c), Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Saim Ayub, Sahibzada Farhan, Haseebullah Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Aamer Jamal, Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Mohammad Nawaz, Abrar Ahmed, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Zaman Khan.