In what was pretty much an expected move, Pakistan have recalled opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad for the upcoming ICC World T20 in India. In an official statement, the Pakistan Cricket Board released the 15-member squad for the showpiece T20I event.
Earlier, PCB Chairman Shahryar Khan had publicly come to the defence of under-fire skipper Shahid Afridi as Pakistan had a below-par showing in the recently concluded Asia Cup. However, he admitted that the performances of the top-order had left a lot to be desired.
Shehzad’s inclusion could bolster the opening combination even as Khurram Manzoor found himself out of the squad. In the other change, middle-order batsman Khalid Latif slotted in place of Iftikhar Ahmed.
Chief Selector Haroon Rasheed revealed the modifications were made after all the stakeholders were consulted. He stated, “While picking the squad, the team management and skipper were consulted by the selectors, and all concerned gave their consent in this regard.“
Rasheed was also hopeful of a turnaround from the ‘Men in Green’ as they are set to travel across the border. He added, “The T20 team has been selected keeping in mind the conditions during the World T-20 in India. The team is a fine blend of experience and youth and the selectors believe that team will do well in the mega event.”
Shehzad remains the only Pakistani batsman to score a T20I century, a feat which he achieved in the 2014 World T20 against Bangladesh. In the Pakistan Super League, the 24-year old shone with the bat for Quetta Gladiators including a 39-ball 64 in the final.
Even though his team lost the summit clash, the Lahore-born opener’s consistency in the tournament forced the selectors to reconsider their stance. He was dropped for the Asia Cup and his replacements failed to provide Pakistan decent starts.
Taking full responsibility for the bizarre selection of Khurram Manzoor who struggled badly in the 20-overs tournament, Rasheed admitted, “The inclusion of Khurram backfired and as a chief selector I take full responsibility.”
Citing lack of options for bringing back Shehzad, the 62-year old revealed, “Now when we look around for who is going to replace Khurram, we don't really have a serious contender, but Ahmed at least, has some experience under his belt. He did show some form in PSL too, otherwise, we haven't seen any other (promising) opening batsman.“
Meanwhile, the 30-year old Khalid Latif was picked to offer an additional option in the middle-order. Pakistan will begin their campaign against a qualifier before heading off to Dharamsala for the much-anticipated clash against arch-rivals India.
Pakistan Squad for World T20: Ahmed Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Khalid Latif, Sarfaraz Ahmed (WK), Anwar Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim, Shahid Afridi (C), Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Aamir, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Sami
Support Staff: Intikhab Alam - Team Manager, Waqar Younis - Head Coach, Azhar Mahmood - Bowling Coach, Grant William Flower - Batting Coach, Grant Trafford Luden - Fielding Coach cum Trainer, Dr. Sohail Saleem - Physiotherapist, Shahid Aslam - Assistant Team Manager, Col. (R) Azam Khan - Security Manager, Agha Akbar - Media Manager, Talah Ejaz - Analyst, Malang Ali - MasseurPublished 07 Mar 2016, 20:39 IST