Men’s T20 World Cup: Sarfaraz Ahmed, Fakhar Zaman and Haider Ali in Pakistan squad after rejig

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Azam Khan and Mohammad Hasnain have been dropped from the party, while Khushdil Shah is now in the reserves’ list

Former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, Fakhar Zaman and Haider Ali have all been included in the Pakistan squad for the upcoming men’s T20 World Cup following a rejig on Friday. Azam Khan and Mohammad Hasnain have, as a result, been omitted altogether, while Khushdil Shah has dropped to the reserves’ list, in place of Fakhar. The changes were announced by the PCB two days off from the deadline for the submission of the final squads for the tournament.

While that completed the 15 afresh, there was a doubt on the availability of Sohaib Maqsood, the 34-year-old middle-order batter who sustained an injury during the ongoing National T20 Cup. The PCB said that a decision on his participation would be made after medical advice was available.

Maqsood, the Southern Punjab player, underwent MRI scans for the lower back after the October 6 National T20 Cup match against Northern and missed Thursday’s Punjab derby against Central Punjab.

Some changes had been expected to the squad, which had been announced on September 6, based on performances at the National T20 Cup. Haider’s call-up marked a swift turnaround for a player who, just two months ago, was sent home from England after breaching Covid-19 restrictions. His form in the National T20 Cup, including three unbeaten half-centuries, have earned him a place in the final 15, while Azam’s indifferent form have led to Sarfaraz taking his place.

Fakhar’s inclusion was perhaps less surprising, with the player already part of the travelling reserves in the initial squad. He took the place of middle-order batter Khushdil, who, while yet to get a sustained run at T20I level, has found it tough going at the National T20 Cup this year.

X”The three in-form players [included] bring with them a wealth of experience and talent, and provide further stability, balance and strength to the side,” chief selector Mohammad Wasim said. “It must be tough for Azam, Khushdil and Hasnain for missing out, but they still have a lot to offer in their careers. They are in our future plans as a lot of cricket has to be played post the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 and in the lead up to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia.

“I am pleased with the intensity and high quality of cricket that we have witnessed in the National T20. It has not only provided the players excellent match practice in the lead up to the UAE competition, it has also given us the opportunity to closely monitor the player progress and then make decisions that are in the best interest of the side for what will be a cut-throat tournament.”

The changes to the squad brought to an end mounting speculation about likely changes based on recent performances. Several names have been bandied about over the past fortnight, though not necessarily in official circles.

Sahibzada Farhan, Aamer Yamin and even Shoaib Malik were thought of as chances for a call-up. While that’s off the table for now, injuries to the final squad members could well mean further changes later.

Pakistan’s first game at the T20 World Cup takes place on October 24 against India, with fixtures against New Zealand, Afghanistan and two qualifiers to follow.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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