Pakistan name 16-man squad for series against World XI
What's the story?
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has named a 16-man squad for the three-match T20 series against World XI in the Independence Cup to be played at Lahore, next month.
The team will be led by Sarfraz Ahmed while the likes of veteran Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail and Junaid Khan misses out from the 2017 Champions Trophy winning 15-man squad.
In case you didn't know...
Pakistan surprised one and all with their success at the 2017 Champions Trophy after heading into the tournament as the lowest ranked of the eight teams in the fray.
They began on the worst possible note after being completely outplayed by arch-rivals India in their opening match, but they struck back in the same vein with victories over South Africa and Sri Lanka in their remaining group fixtures sealing their passage to the semi-finals.
They outplayed hosts and pre-tournament favourites England in the last-four clash setting up a clash against India for the title, and this time around, it was Sarfraz Ahmed's side who got their revenge, winning by a margin of 180 runs.
The heart of the matter
The memorable victory has been one of epic proportions as it has breathed life back into Pakistan cricket which had been marred with issues of corruption, spot-fixing scandals and controversial issues such as Umar Akmal's dismissal from the squad based on fitness grounds.
International cricket has deserted Pakistan since the 2009 tour by Sri Lanka when they were attacked by terrorists on their way to the stadium. Only Zimbabwe has toured the country since when they played a short series in 2015.
The PCB is hopeful that a successful staging of the series between Pakistan and World XI will help persuade other ICC member nations to tour the country.
Pakistan's 16-man squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Umar Ameen, Amad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Muhammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hassan Ali, Amir Yameen, Muhammad Amir, Roman Raees, Usman Shunwari and Sohail Khan.
World XI squad: Faf du Plessis (South Africa) (C), Hashim Amla (South Africa), Samuel Badree (Windies), George Bailey (Australia), Paul Collingwood (England), Ben Cutting (Australia), Grant Elliott (New Zealand), Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh), David Miller (South Africa), Morne Morkel (South Africa), wicketkeeper Tim Paine (Australia), Thisara Perera (Sri Lanka), Imran Tahir (South Africa) and Darren Sammy (Windies).
The three T20 matches between Pakistan and World XI in the Independence Cup will be played at Lahore from Sept 12 to 15.
Pakistan has invited Sri Lanka for a one-off T20I in September while West Indies are also likely to tour Pakistan in November for a limited-overs expedition.
The series against World XI will be Pakistan's first outing since the 2017 Champions Trophy success, but more than the action on the field, what the PCB will be hoping for is a vote of confidence from the players who will turn out for the World XI.
The scourge of terrorism has kept cricket away from Pakistan for long with the side being faced to play their home matches in the UAE.
The three-match T20 series is a good start no doubt but only time will tell whether the series acts as a catalyst for future tours from ICC member nations.