Pakistan captain Babar Azam defended the last-minute changes to the T20 squad for the upcoming World Cup. Pakistan made four changes to the initial 15-player contingent, one of which was due to an injury. They dropped Azam Khan and Mohammad Hasnain from the squad while Khushdil Shah went to the reserves.
Fakhar Zaman has been brought in to take Shah's spot while Sarfaraz Ahmed and Haider Ali were also included in the team. Lastly, Sohaib Maqsood's back injury paved the way for Shoaib Malik.
Babar Azam stated that as some players struggled in the National T20 Cup, changes were inevitable. Azam said in a press conference in the UAE:
"Some players were not in a fine touch during the domestic tournament. Changes were made to the squad since some players were not able to perform well. Shoaib Malik is an experienced player who is also considered among the fit members of our squad. However, we have to make a plan on including him in the playing XI squad."
Malik was in fine form in the domestic T20 competition, scoring 225 runs in seven games at a strike rate of 151. The 39-year-old has featured in all the T20 World Cups in the past.
"Captaining the team in a mega event is a challenging role for me" - Babar Azam
Azam remarked he is looking forward to the challenging role of representing Pakistan as a captain in the World Cup. The 26-year-old hopes to use his form to replicate the men in green's 2009 success. He said:
"However, captaining the team in a mega event is a challenging role for me. You derive confidence from impressive performances. I am in form, hence it will benefit me. We will try our best to recapture that moment again."
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Pakistan will open their campaign against Virat Kohli's Indian side in Dubai on October 24. They will face an uphill challenge to get past the group stage as they will face also challenges from Afghanistan and New Zealand in Group One.