Pakistan have given three players their first call-ups to the T20 squad for next month’s five-match series in New Zealand and also included Haris Rauf despite friction over the pace bowler’s decision to skip the test tour of Australia.
The uncapped duo of right-arm pacer Abbas Afridi and wicketkeeper-batter Haseebullah Khan were named in the 17-man squad for the series which will double as T20 World Cup preparations for both nations.
Leg-spinner Usama Mir, who featured in Pakistan’s World Cup squad for the 50-over tournament in India, will also hope to make his T20I debut in a new-look squad to be captained by pace spearhead Shaheen Afridi for the first time.
White-ball specialist Rauf will return to Pakistan colours after incurring the wrath of the nation’s cricket board for opting out of the ongoing three-Test series against Australia.
The board later gave him permission to play a limited role in Australia’s Big Bash League with the Melbourne Stars.
Test captain Shan Masood and batter Mohammad Haris have been rested for the New Zealand T20s, while spin bowling all-rounder Shadab Khan and young quick Naseem Shah will miss out due to injuries.
Chief selector Wahab Riaz said Pakistan, runners-up to England at last year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, would use the New Zealand tour to build depth before the global showpiece in the United States and West Indies in June.
“This is the best pool of players but we also want to build back-ups,” he said in a statement.
“We have to explore our new talent and see what kind of performances they are capable of producing.”
Batsman Sahibzada Farhan, who played the last of his three T20Is against New Zealand five years ago, has earned a recall after solid form in the National T20 Cup.
Pakistan squad: Shaheen Afridi (capt), Aamir Jamal, Abbas Afridi, Azam Khan, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haseebullah Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jr., Sahibzada Farhan, Saim Ayub, Usama Mir, Zaman Khan.
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