Mohammad Hafeez's participation in the T10 League in Abu Dhabi will prevent him from playing for Pakistan in the upcoming T20I series against South Africa. The batsman, who was the leading run-scorer in T20I cricket in 2020, was surprisingly left out of the Pakistan squad for the South Africa series.
While announcing the squad, Chief Selector Mohammad Wasim revealed the reasons for Hafeez's absence.
"Hafeez is in prolific form and he would have been part of the squad if he was available. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to join the bio-bubble [due to participation in T10 League] by February 3 which is why we have not considered him for the series. Following the Covid-19 protocols is mandatory for everyone involved," said Wasim, as reported by Cricket Pakistan.
"Asif Ali is also playing T10 League but he has agreed to join the bubble by February 3," he added.
The T10 League is due to end on February 6, which would leave enough time for Hafeez to return to Pakistan in normal circumstances. But COVID-19 protocols mean that he won't be available for the series against South Africa.
Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz among big names missing from Pakistan squad for South Africa T20Is
The absence of Mohammad Hafeez will be a big blow to Pakistan's hopes of beating South Africa in the three-match T20I series. The 40-year-old is one of the most prolific batsmen in T20I cricket and carried Pakistan on his back at times last season. Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, and Shadab Khan are also missing from the Pakistan squad.
The tourists will also be without a few key players as they will return home to prepare for the Test series against Australia.
The three T20Is will be held in Lahore at the famous Gaddafi Stadium. The series is due to get underway on February 11, with the second and third T20Is on February 13 and 14 respectively.
Both teams will view the series as a chance to begin preparations for the upcoming T20I World Cup, which will take place in India in October.