Opener Ahmad Shahzad’s return to the international fold has been confirmed after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) submitted his name to the International Cricket Council for their final World T20 squad. The 24-year-old comes in for Khurram Manzoor, who had a nightmare debut tournament in the recently concluded Asia Cup.
Ahmad was up against former skipper Salman Butt in the reckoning for the opener’s slot left vacant by Manzoor, but skipper Shahid Afridi was against the inclusion of Butt due to his role in the ‘spot-fixing’ scandal five years ago.
But since his return to competitive cricket, Butt had made headlines as he amassed 536 runs in seven National One-Day Cup matches to finish behind Kamran Akmal in the top-scorers list.
Ahmad Shahzad replaces Khurram Manzoor in World T20 squad
The selectors and head coach Waqar Younis were leaning towards Butt, but Afridi’s opinion swayed their decision in Shahzad’s favour. PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan has approved the 15-member squad at the recommendation of the national selection committee, headed by Haroon Rashid.
Haroon backed the bunch to do well in India and said only one slot needed to be filled despite the team’s collectively poor showing in the Asia Cup.
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“I still believe we’ve got a good bunch that will do well in the World T20,” Haroon told The Express Tribune. “We’ve got talented players in the team but it is about doing well in all aspects of the game — batting, bowling and fielding.”
The chief selector believes they have chosen the cream of the crop and the onus is now on the players to deliver. “These are Pakistan’s best players and they must take responsibility,” he said. “We made only one change; and that too because Manzoor just couldn’t perform while Shahzad was impressive in the Pakistan Super League.”
Pakistan’s performances were not up to the mark in Bangladesh, but poor pitches and below-par umpiring standards made life even more difficult.
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However, conditions in India, where pitches tend to be hard and flat, will be different and the outfield is likely to be quicker as well.
And Haroon remains upbeat about the team’s chances. “Obviously this team can do well,” he said. “All they need is self-belief. I believe in this unit and the players must back their ability too. There is no reason why Pakistan can’t put up a good display.”
Off to India
The final 15
1. Shahid Afridi (c)
2. Sarfraz Ahmed (wk)
3. Shoaib Malik
4. Mohammad Hafeez
5. Umar Akmal
6. Ahmad Shahzad
7. Sharjeel Khan
8. Mohammad Nawaz
9. Imad Wasim
10. Anwar Ali
11. Mohammad Irfan
12. Mohammad Amir
13. Wahab Riaz
14. Mohammad Sami
15. Khalid Latif
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2016.
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