Pakistan pacer Mohammad Irfan is all set to return to the one-day international (ODI) arena after his name was included in the squad for Sri Lanka ODI series. Pakistan Cricket Board announced a 16-man squad for the five-match series which is scheduled to start on July 11.
The 33-year-old is making his comeback into the team after recovering from a hip injury sustained during the recently concluded World Cup. The injury meant him missing the crucial quarter-final match against champions Australia which eventually Pakistan lost.
Irfan’s return does not guarantee Pakistan’s full strength in the pace department as Wahab Riaz pulled out of the tour due to an injury on his bowling hand during the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo. Haris Sohail was also ruled out after a knee injury and missed all three Tests. Sohaib Maqsood too wasn’t included in the team as he wasn’t fully fit.
“Irfan has completed a rehab and is raring to go. Unfortunately Riaz, Sohail and Sohaib Maqsood were not available for selection due to injuries.” Haroon Rasheed (Cheif selector) was quoted saying by Widen India.
Raiz was under constant observation by a medical panel to see if he could play the last two games, Rasheed added.
Mukhtar Ahmed and Bilal Asif will debut for the team in the upcoming series.
“Mukhtar has shown tremendous improvement while Asif has also shown that he is a powerful hitter and also a handy offspinner,” said Rasheed.
Umar Akmal and Junaid Khan are also left out from the squad along with Saeed Ajmal who is struggling with his new bowling action since April.
Pakistan needs to win the series against Sri Lanka in order to have any chance of qualifying for the Champions Trophy 2017 in England. They are currently in the ninth position in the ICC rankings and need to win up a spot to qualify in the eight-nation tournament.
The first match of the ODI series in Dambulla. The five-match series will be followed by two T20s for which the squad is yet to be announced.
Squad: Azhar Ali (Captain), Mukhtar Ahmed, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (Wicket-keeper), Yasir Shah, Bilal Asif, Immad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Ehsan Adil, Rahat Ali.
Pakistan hopes to come out with full-strength despite several injuries.