Mohammad Amir overlooked
Karachi: Pakistan on Thursday left out experienced but out-of-form pacer Mohammad Amir from its 15-member World Cup squad while including batsman Abid Ali in the line-up. Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, announcing the World Cup squad and two reserve players, said the 11 from the 2017 Champions Trophy had been retained in the selection process. “We are hopeful and confident that Pakistan will give a good account of itself in the World Cup,” Inzamam said.
The national selection committee, headed by Inzamam-ul-Haq and his fellow selectors — Tauseef Ahmed, Wajahatullah Wasti and Wasim Haider — faced a daunting task in the wake of the recent 5-0 loss to reigning world champions Australia in the United Arab Emirates where Pakistan fielded a depleted side while giving ‘rest’ to seven senior members of the team.
Unlike top-ranked sides such as England, India, New Zealand and Australia, Pakistan have had a bumpy ride in the ODIs since defeating arch-rivals India in the ICC Champions Trophy final at The Oval in June 2017. Pakistan’s recent assignments in 50-over cricket narrate a dismal story. Prior to hosting Australia, Pakistan lost 3-2 in South Africa after sharing the three-match series against New Zealand with one match rained off, a couple of months after failing to qualify for the Asia Cup final.
Head coach Mickey Arthur’s desire to have the fittest possible squad at his disposal surely makes a lot of sense in one of the longest World Cups in terms of duration with 48 fixtures to be played from May 30 until July 14. The biggest headache for both Arthur and captain Sarfraz Ahmed was the Mohammad Amir dilemma. The left-armer’s misfortunes since his dismantling of India’s top-order — Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan — in that dream spell during the Champions Trophy final make a horrific reading: The 27-year-old has taken just five wickets from 101 overs at 92.60 in the last fourteen matches.
Despite all his struggles, there was no denying that Amir is definitely a ‘big-match’ player and this single virtue was thought to be enough for the selectors to induct him unhesitatingly, although several other options were available.Sources close to the selectors said that both Arthur and Sarfraz were very keen on having the still-raw Mohammad Hasnain as a surprise weapon. As reported by Dawn, at the start of February many never knew how this tearaway fast bowler even looked like. But his sudden rise to stardom as a match-winner during the Pakistan Super League made everyone sit up and take serious notice of him.
The selectors, while not showing faith with left-armer Aamir, reposed confidence in seniors Shoaib Malik and Muhammad Hafeez.Inzamam said that Hafeez’s final inclusion in World Cup was subject to him being 100 per cent fit before the tournament as he is still recovering from a thumb injury. “Doctors have advised him not to bowl or bat now but when his rehab is over he will be back in action in two weeks time,” he added.
Pakistan World Cup squad:
Sarfaraz Ahmed (Capt), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Muhammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Junaid Khan, Muhammad Hasnain. Reserves: Asif Ali and Muhammad Aamir.