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Update Asad Shafiq axed as Pakistan name 35-member squad for NZ tour

[Image: shafiq-made-just-67-runs-in-fi.jpg]

A day after appointing Babar Azam as the Test captain, Pakistan announced a 35-man squad on Wednesday (November 11) for their upcoming tour of New Zealand. The national and Shaheens (schedule not confirmed yet) squads will be selected from the list of 35. The players and the support staff will be departing for Lincoln on November 23, where they will have to spend the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Nine-Test-old Mohammad Rizwan, who notched up back-to-back fifties against England in August 2020, has been named the new Test vice-captain. Meanwhile, legspinner Shadab Khan will be Azam's second in command in the three-match T20I series.

The major exclusions from the squad are Asad Shafiq, Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir. Shafiq has been dropped on the back of his poor performance in England where he managed to tally just 67 runs in five innings. The other two seniors have been left out as Pakistan are looking to groom all-format players. Meanwhile, Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz make it to the tour, courtesy good performances in the recently concluded home series against Zimbabwe.

"Asad is an experienced batsman and I am sure he will utilise this time to work harder on his game in the domestic first-class matches so that he, like Sarfaraz Ahmed, can reclaim his form and be back in contention for the upcoming Tests against South Africa and Zimbabwe," said Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan's head coach and chief selector.

"Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir are not part of the white-ball matches as for this tour we have opted to invest, develop and focus on the promising and emerging players who are likely to be available to Pakistan for all formats. We have kept faith in Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz purely on the basis of their outstanding and consistent performances as well as the value they bring to the T20I squad."

Pakistan have included four uncapped players in the 35-member squad - Amad Butt, Danish Aziz, Imran Butt and Rohail Nazir - following their impressive performances in the domestic circuit. But the chances of them getting an opportunity to play for the country is minimal. Misbah added, "These four players are amongst some other players who have been selected specifically for Shaheens as part of our strategy to build our bench strength." The Shaheens are expected to play New Zealand A.

Pakistan, who are currently ranked fourth, will lock horns against the sixth-placed New Zealand in a three-match T20I series. Following that, the two teams will take part in a two-match Test series where 120 Test Championship points will be up for grabs. The two sides are currently separated by 14 points with the Kiwis (180) placed fourth, one spot above Pakistan.

"The matches in New Zealand are critical for us as we aim to improve our T20I rankings and also gain valuable points in the ICC World Test Championship. In this background and taking into consideration recent player performances, we have selected the best available players," opined Misbah.

"This tour schedule has been designed in such a way that we play tough intra-squad matches in the lead up to international matches and compensate for the local oppositions. While the national side will be involved in one format, Shaheens will be in action in the other format. This means all the players will be busy and playing competitive cricket."

Pakistan's 35-member squad: Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Zeeshan Malik, Babar Azam (captain), 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 and Wahab Riaz


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