KARACHI: The national selection committee met over the weekend in Lahore to assess the credentials of the probables ahead of the critical three-match ODI series against the West Indies which starts in Sharjah on September 30.
Pakistan need to beat West Indies, ideally by a 3-0 margin, to improve both their ICC ODI rankings and chances of direct qualification for the 2019 ICC World Cup, with the Men in Green currently languishing in ninth; one spot behind the visitors.
Chief selector Inzamamul Haq is expected to travel to the UAE today and announce the team after a final consultation with head coach Mickey Arthur this week. An official close to the matter told The Express Tribune that several changes have been made to the squad that lost the ODI series to England by a 4-1 margin last month.
The fast-bowling duo of Mohammad Irfan and Umar Gul have been axed from the squad, with Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Sohail Khan and Hassan Ali left to fight for the four pace slots.
Gul ready to fulfil senior bowler's responsibilities
Amir, Wahab and Hassan are almost certain to be selected barring a last-minute change after Inzamam’s consultation with Arthur, meaning that Rahat and Sohail are vying for the final spot.
Opener Khalid Latif is likely to be rewarded for his consistent T20 form with a spot in the ODI squad, having last played a 50-over game six years and eight months ago against Australia in Perth. However, question marks still remain around his fielding ability and a slump in form in the West Indies T20I series that precedes the ODIs might further delay a comeback.
After the retention of Azhar Ali as captain, the selectors have been in search of firepower at the top of the innings but other than the odd change, the batsmen who played against England are set for another run.
Umar Akmal can also earn a recall in ODIs but like Latif may have to prove himself in the T20I series.
Azhar set to continue as ODI captain against Windies
Four spinners called up at NCA
The selectors have called up four spinners to gauge their talent and possible selection for the West Indies series.
Keeping in mind the historical weakness of the Caribbean batsmen against quality spin, the selectors are searching for backup options for leg-spinner Yasir Shah who is expected to play a prominent role in both the ODIs and the Tests.
The leg-spinning duo of Karachi’s Shahzaib Khan and FATA’s Mohammad Irfan are among the quartet of spinners and have both been on the selectors’ radar for some months. They therefore have an outside chance of being called up to the national side.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2016.
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