What’s the story?
Pakistan have announced their squad for the upcoming ODI series in Australia. As expected, Azhar Ali has been retained as captain of the 15-member contingent. However, leg-spinner Yasir Shah misses out along with fast bowler Sohail Khan.
Interestingly, the injury-prone Mohammad Irfan returns to the team in Sohail’s place. The left-arm pacer had struggled to complete his full quota of overs in his previous ODI against England in Headingley and coach Mickey Arthur did not mince any words in expressing his frustration.
Meanwhile, in the batting department, Umar Akmal retains his place in the squad. The mercurial batsman last played an ODI during the 2015 World Cup and only managed to return to the national set-up for the West Indies series wherein he did not get an opportunity. However, his elder brother Kamran Akmal has not found a spot despite his impressive domestic form.
In case you didn’t know
Even though Yasir has had an impressive start to his Test career, he is yet to make a mark in the white-ball formats. From 17 ODIs so far, the wrist-spinner has picked up 18 wickets at an average of 42.55 and economy rate of 5.41. Despite being a part of the squad for Pakistan’s previous series against West Indies in UAE, the 30-year old did not get a game.
Sohail Khan played only one match in that particular series and picked up a wicket for 34 runs. His replacement Mohammad Irfan may have been chosen due to the ability to get steep bounce on Australian pitches.
Heart of the matter
Former skipper and chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said, “The ODI team has been selected keeping in mind the conditions in Australia and the performances of players in the recent ODI series against West Indies and in domestic cricket. The team is a fine blend of experience and youth, and the selectors have decided to stick to the same combination of players selected for the West Indies series earlier. We believe that the team will do well in the tour.”
Pakistan's ODI Squad – Azhar Ali (c), Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Rizwan, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali and Mohammad Irfan
The gulf between the two teams is evident from the ICC rankings. While Pakistan find themselves in the eighth position, Australia are at the top of the table. The last time that they won an ODI series against the Aussies was way back in 2002 when Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis were still playing.
In their last 23 ODIs at home, Australia have tasted defeat only once (against India in Sydney, 2016). Considering their respective recent form, Azhar Ali’s side could be in for a rather gruelling time.