Srinagar: Pakistan on Friday announced its squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.
The squad was announced by Chief Sector Inzamam ul Haq after indepth deliberation over past one week. He revealed why Hasan Ali was preferred as replacement for Naseem Shah and addressed concerned over spin bowlers Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz.
The squad didn’t comprise too many surprises, with the core group of players that have regularly featured over the last couple of years picked once again. However, Pakistan were still forced to make a vital change in their lineup.
Pacer Naseem Shah sustained an injury during Pakistan’s Asia Cup Super Four encounter against India, and will miss plenty of action in the upcoming months. The experienced Hasan Ali was therefore drafted in as his replacement.
While Naseem’s loss is a big one, given his exemplary ODI record of 32 wickets at an average of 16.96 and two five-fors, the team will hope that Hasan’s experience makes up for it.
Hasan has featured in 60 ODIs, claiming 91 wickets at an average of 30.36.
“Firstly, the way Naseem Shah got injured, he was our main bowler [expected to be in the squad],” Inzamam said, explaining the selection.
“Secondly, there are a number of injury issues among fast bowlers. Like there was [Mohammed] Hasnain, he’s had an injury and has been operated by doctors. Ihsanullah just had an elbow operation. Our options in fast bowling are depleted.”
The chief selector supported Hasan’s performance in global events and emphasised his ability to step into the role left vacant by Naseem in taking the new ball.
“And talking about Hasan Ali, you look at his performances in the Lankan Premier League and at other places. He’s performed well and is an experienced bowler. He might not have featured in international cricket of late, but he has played mega events for Pakistan and he has performed for us,” Inzamam said.
“And we needed a new-ball bowler after it was clear that Naseem wouldn’t play the World Cup, so Hasan Ali is a brilliant choice for that. He does well with the new ball, and old ball and also has experience. He’s a team man as well, and brings energy into our side.”
Another significant concern for Pakistan in recent times has been their performance in the middle overs, both with the ball and bat. In the Asia Cup, spinners like Shadab Khan (with six wickets at 40.83) and Mohammed Nawaz (with just one wicket at 94) couldn’t keep up the pressure built in the early overs.
However, they both found a place in the World Cup squad. Inzamam defended their selection by stating that the side needed continuity with respect to the players in their ranks.
“With Shadab and Nawaz, we have tried to keep the continuity going. We haven’t tried to bring about many changes. In the World Cup squad, you bring in players you’ve prepared over a period of time.
“You make your [team] plans, about six months or a year before the event. That’s how you make a team.
“Shadab and Nawaz have played ODIs with us over the last two years. It is true that they didn’t perform well [in the Asia Cup]. Our troubles centre around the fact that we don’t pick wickets in the middle overs.
“It is true that Shadab and Nawaz haven’t performed as per their calibre, but we have full confidence in them. They’ve played with us for a long time, and have performed well. And this is a big event, and we hope that they’ll perform better. Otherwise, we have Usama Mir as an option as well.”
Pakistan squad for the 2023 World Cup: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim
Pakistan will play two warm-up fixtures before the event, against New Zealand and Australia respectively. They begin their World Cup campaign against the Netherlands at Hyderabad on 6 October.