Wednesday, September 14, 2022
The national selection committee is facing a tough time in announcing the team for the England series and the T20 World Cup in Australia amid multiple fitness issues and poor performance in the recently concluded Asia Cup 2022.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is supposed to finalise the squad for the seven-match series in a couple of days while the world cup cut-off date for team submission is September 15.
According to a report by The News, chief selector Mohammad Wasim, captain Babar Azam and head coach Saqlain Mushtaq held a meeting on Tuesday and are expected to meet again over the next two days to decide on the formation of the team for the upcoming international outings.
It is unlikely that Pakistan will go on to meet the deadline set forth by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to name the team for the World Cup and might request an extension.
“We have not yet requested the ICC for any extension in deadline but that is possible if the selectors desire so. There have been traditions where the ICC in some cases has given extra time to a member country to submit names for important events. I think the situation would get clear within the next two days,” a source within the board said.
Besides Shaheen Shah Afridi who is undergoing rehab in London, the national selectors are not sure at this point whether all the players who represented Pakistan in the Asia Cup are fully fit to take on England.
“The injury to Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Shahnawaz Dahani is a real concern. Selectors are waiting for the expert opinion on cricketers’ injury status before finalising the team for the England series, a source confided to the publication.
About Afridi, the source added, he would not be in a position to play the first five matches against England and depending on his fitness status he may be selected to play at least one of the matches before heading to New Zealand for the tri-series.
Wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan, who played the last two Asia Cup matches with knee problems, is also likely to be rested at least for the first half of the series against England.
Shadab’s injury status is also not clear yet. However, all these injured players have time at their disposal to get fit and ready before the team departs for New Zealand in the first week of October.
One of the tricky questions selectors face at present is the selection of an extra wicketkeeper with the squad to Down Under.
In case the selectors go in favour of a second wicket-keeper for the T20 World Cup, it is likely that he would be given a chance against England.
Chances are there that Sarfaraz Ahmed may be asked to keep wickets against England at least for the first half of the England series. In that case we may well see the reserve wicket-keeper travelling with the team to Down Under.
“Option of including one extra player in the T20 World Cup squad on all expenses paid by the ‘PCB’ is also under consideration,” the sources said.
“Apart from a 15-member squad, one of two extra players may be included in the team for the tri-series and later for the World Cup. However, these players would only participate in the World Cup, if some genuine injury problems erupt in between. Chances, however, are there that a reserve wicketkeeper may be included in the 15-member World Cup team, at the expense of a genuine batter.”