Haider Ali (R) and Abdullah Shafique run between the wickets during the third Twenty20 match at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Tuesday. AFP
Gulf Today Report
Pakistan’s national cricket team head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul Haq on Wednesday announced a 35-men squad for the upcoming New Zealand tour, saying that this time there is a focus on up-and-coming talent. The tour consists of three T20Is and two Tests.
Misbah also announced the dropping of three big players from the 35-strong squad after their lacklustre performances in England.
Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Amir and Asad Shafiq will stay home for the Twenty20 international and Test tour, Misbah said.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Misbah said that “we have opted to invest, develop and focus on the promising and emerging players.”
Misbah-ul Haq arrives for a press conference to announce the team in Lahore on Wednesday. AP
He said the big-name omissions were due to a "lack of performance" on the summer England tour.
Uncapped Amad Butt, Danish Aziz, Imran Butt and Rohail Nazir are all solid young domestic performers included in the squad — larger than usual in case players have to drop out because of coronavirus.
"These unprecedented COVID-19 times provide a unique opportunity to select a larger squad," Misbah said.
Abdullah Shafique plays a shot against Zimbabwe. AFP
"I want to congratulate uncapped Amad Butt, Danish Aziz, Imran Butt and Rohail Nazir who have impressed the selectors with their form, technique, temperament and ability to secure places in the 35-player pool," said Misbah.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced that it has appointed Mohammad Rizwan as the vice-captain for the Test team. A day earlier, PCB had confirmed that Babar Azam will take over the Test captaincy from Azhar Ali. He was already named as the white ball captain of the cricket team.
Pakistan lost the three-Test series 1-0, and the Twenty20 series was tied 1-1 with one no result.
Shafiq, who has played a Pakistan record of 72 consecutive Tests in his 77-match career, managed just 67 runs in five innings in England. Malik made 14 in one of the three T20 internationals, while he did not bat in the other two. Amir failed to get a wicket in two T20 internationals in England.
Khushdil Shah hits a boundary during the third T20 against Zimbabwe. AFP
The team will depart on Nov.23 for Lincoln, where they will spend two weeks in quarantine. T20 internationals are scheduled for Auckland on Dec.18, Hamilton on Dec.20 and Napier on Dec.22.
The first Test is at Mount Maunganui from Dec.26-30, with the second at Christchurch from Jan.3-7.
Babar Azam (captain), Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Zeeshan Malik, Azhar Ali, Danish Aziz, Fawad Alam, Haider Ali, Haris Sohail, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imran Butt, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Rohail Nazir, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir, Yasir Shah, Zafar Gohar, Amad Butt, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Musa, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz
The Black Caps first restricted Pakistan to 153/9 and then chased down the target with seven balls to spare to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
"Fitness has been an important part of our strategy as a team since I took on the role of head coach last September and we have seen the benefits in the two Tests so far," Misbah wrote in a column for the Pakistan Cricket Board's website.
Pakistan were 223-9 at stumps on the second day, with Rizwan 60 not out just as he started to up the tempo of his innings with only last man Naseem Shah for company.
Shaheen Afridi needed just four balls to remove England's Rory Burns for a duck on Sunday before bad weather again interrupted the second Test at Southampton. England were 7-1 in reply to Pakistan's first innings 236 when rain stopped play at 12:00pm local time on the fourth day.
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