Pakistan have named a 16-member squad for home ODIs against Sri Lanka, which is scheduled to take place later this month in Karachi.
Batsman Iftikhar Ahmed, who made his last ODI appearance in 2015, has been rewarded a place in the squad for his impressive showing with the bat in the Pakistan Cup, the country’s 50-overs tournament, wherein he notched up two hundreds and a fifty in three successive innings.
Iftikhar, along with wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan, and allrounder Mohammad Nawaz, are three surprise picks, who were also a part of the first squad that was announced by their new head coach and chief selector, Misbah-ul-Haq.
Nawaz will be returning to international cricket after a year while Rizwan’s last international appearance came during the five-match ODI series against Australia in Dubai in March this year. The 27-year-old had hit two centuries in the series but couldn’t retain his spot in the Men’s Cricket World Cup tournament.
SLC's fears assuaged after Pakistan government assures "security as that provided to a head of state" for touchy tour.https://t.co/ewsGRZltXm
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) September 20, 2019
Pakistan will be without the services of their ace pace bowlers, Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali, who are absent due to illness. Afridi is down with dengue while Hasan is suffering from back spasms.
Another notable absentee from the squad is Mohammad Hafeez, who is currently playing in Caribbean Premier League.
Misbah explained Iftikhar’s inclusion in the squad, saying: “Iftikhar has a 51 [51.65] average in List A, he has been a top performer in the last three to four seasons. He is, I think, our fifth bowler, and you can utilise him, his fitness is excellent.
“He is a mature player, he is a three-dimensional player, fielding-wise good, he can do bowling, he can bat, he has 91 strike rate and 51 average and that’s the reason we have brought him [into the squad]. Previously he was not coming into the team became of Hafeez and Shoaib [Malik], now he is in the team and he can bowl offspin too.
“Sarfaraz and Rizwan’s roles are different,” he said. “If someone has scored two hundreds at No.4, you have a chance. You have the added advantage of having two wicketkeepers, fitness-wise he is very good, and he will be in the loop. We are trying to encourage such players and we will try to give them matches whenever we have a chance.”
Squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hasnain, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shadab Khan, Usman Khan Shinwari, Wahab Riaz.