[dropcap]K[/dropcap]arachi: Opener Ahmed Shehzad, who is currently out of the Pakistan team for disciplinary reasons, will be captaining Habib Bank Limited (HBL) during the upcoming Quaid-i-Azam Trophy National Cricket Championship.
Head coach Kabir Khan, while talking to Dawn on Thursday, said former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has made himself available for the country’s premier first-class tournament.
The 36-year-old Afridi made just two appearances at the first-class level for the bankers in the previous two seasons.
“But this time Shahid is likely to play more matches for Habib Bank since he has expressed his commitment to play matches for the department,” Kabir, the ex-Pakistan left-arm paceman, said.
“Another feature of our squad is we have signed up four players from Afghanistan for our home season.
“But we will be certainly missing Asad Shafiq [who has moved to holders SNGPL] because whenever he was free from Pakistan team commitments, he turned out for the bank in domestic competitions.”
Leg-spinner Rashid Khan, batsman Rahmat Shah Zurmatai, paceman Yamin Ahmadzai and unorthodox slow left-armer Zahir Khan represent the Afghanistan quartet in the 20-man HBL squad.
“All of them are very good young players who will gain a lot from playing in our first-class competition,” Kabir added.
“The experience of rubbing shoulders with our top cricketers will undoubtedly help them improve their skills.”
The revamped squad, which has Pakistan seamer Umar Gul as the new vice-captain, also includes former Pakistan Under-19 star Imam-ul-Haq, a nephew of ex-national captain and current chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq.
The bespectacled left-handed opener previously played for Khan Research Laboratories.
Other newcomers from other departments are Fahim Ashraf (NBP) and Zohaib Khan (ZTBL) as well former Pakistan Under-19 captain Azeem Ghumman who played for native Hyderabad last season.
HBL face Peshawar at the Arbab Niaz Stadium in Peshawar from next Saturday (Oct 1) in their opening four-day Pool ‘A’ fixture which has been switched from Quetta for unspecified reasons.
Squad: Ahmed Shehzad (captain), Umar Gul (vice-captain), Imran Farhat, Abdur Rehman, Shahid Afridi, Aftab Khan, Ramiz Aziz, Mohammad Waqas, Azeem Ghumman, Imam-ul-Haq, Zohaib Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Jamal Anwar, Ammad Butt, Fahim Ashraf, Usman Shinwari Khan, Rashid Khan, Rahmat Shah Zurmatai, Zahir Khan, Yamin Ahmadzai.
Team officials: Kabir Khan (head coach), Aslam Qureshi (assistant coach), Mohammad Ahsan (video analyst), Ibrahim Qureshi (trainer), Ahmed Ali (physio), Sohail Mazhar (manager).