LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board on Monday announced the final 15-member squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 beginning in England and Wales from May 30.
From the 15-player provisional squad, which was announced on April 18, the selectors have replaced Abid Ali and Junaid Khan with Asif Ali and Mohammad Amir, respectively, while Wahab Riaz has been recalled to replace Faheem Ashraf.
Yasir Shah is the fourth player to be released from the side, after he was named as Shadab Khan’s replacement for the series against England, said a press release from the PCB.
Amir, who has fully recovered from a bout of chickenpox after sitting out the recently concluded ODI series against England, and Wahab are expected to join the squad in Bristol on May 22.
Both the players will be available for selection for the May 24 and 26 warm-up matches before Pakistan start their World Cup campaign against the Windies on May 31 at Trent Bridge, the PCB said.
Both Amir and Asif had been dropped from the preliminary World Cup squad. Amir’s stock, however, rose despite not playing a single game against England while he recovered from his condition, as the rest of the bowling lineup took a severe beating in the 4-0 whitewash against England.
Shadab Khan, who was unable to play in the series against England due to a virus-related illness, is also fully fit and has rejoined the squad.
Pakistan had the flexibility to finalise their line-up until May 23, but decided to lock their make-up today following the conclusion of the ODI series against England.
Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq while addressing a press conference earlier today said the team combination was revised after taking into account the fast bowlers’ performances against England as well as the nature of wickets that are likely to be presented in the World Cup.
“Junaid and Faheem had been originally preferred over a few other bowlers based on their recent performances and the investment we had made on them since 2017. They had the opportunity to cement their Word Cup spots, but they were well below-par in the series against England even though they were up against the difficult challenge of bowling on placid and batsmen-friendly wickets.
“After it became obvious that the bat is likely to dominate the ball in the World Cup, we revisited our strategy and reverted to the pace of Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz. Furthermore, Amir and Wahab give the fast bowling attack more experience to back and support the relatively inexperienced but immensely talent Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain,” said Inzamam.
Explaining the decision to recall Wahab, the chief selector said: “The lack of potency of our frontline bowlers in the recent ODI series against England meant that a change was needed. In addition, we now know that we will encounter batting wickets throughout the World Cup campaign.
“The combination of both these elements, meant that we believed that right now, utilising the World Cup experience and knowledge of Wahab was the correct choice.
“Wahab has been training and playing club cricket, and the player of his calibre will not face much problem in adapting and adjusting to the gruelling demands of the World Cup. In addition, playing in the World Cup warm up matches, bowling his quota, will have him match-ready.
“The bowling unit during the England ODIs has not clicked as anticipated or expected; if we have at our disposal two vastly experienced pace duo of Amir and Wahab, then it will be foolish not to include them.”
On leaving Abid Ali out of the final 15, Inzamam said: “It has not been an easy decision to leave out Abid, particularly after he got only one opportunity on the tour. But, he was our third choice opener. After both the first choice openers struck early form, we preferred Asif Ali as he brings firepower to the team that can strengthen our chances in the tournament.
“Both our openers are in form and average over 50 each. If required, we have a fully fit Mohammad Hafeez who can be promoted in the batting order, while Haris Sohail can be the another option.”
Asif, whose daughter Noor Fatima passed away on Sunday while undergoing cancer treatment in the US, is set to rejoin the World Cup squad after her funeral in Lahore, Inzaman said at the press conference.
“We are with Asif in this tough time. He will return to Pakistan and then go back before the warm-up matches,” he said.
Pakistan squad for World Cup
Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain, wicketkeeper), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Pakistan World Cup fixtures:
Pakistan vs West Indies: Friday 31 May, 14:30 PST (9:30 GMT) – Venue: Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Pakistan vs England: Monday 3 June, 14:30 PST (9:30 GMT) – Venue: Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Pakistan vs Sri Lanka: Friday 7 June, 14:30 PST (9:30 GMT) – Venue: Bristol Country Ground, Bristol
Pakistan vs Australia: Wednesday 12 June, 14:30 PST (9:30 GMT) – Venue: The Country Ground, Taunton
Pakistan vs India: Sunday 16 June, 14:30 PST (9:30 GMT) – Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
Pakistan vs South Africa: Sunday 23 June, 14:30 PST (9:30 GMT) – Venue: Lord’s London
Pakistan vs New Zealand: Wednesday 26 June, 14:30 PST (9:30 GMT) – Venue: Edgbaston, Birmingham
Pakistan vs Afghanistan: Saturday 29 June: 14:30 PST (9:30 GMT) – Venue: Headingley, Leeds
Pakistan vs Bangladesh: Friday 5 July, 14:30 PST (9:30 GMT) – Venue: Lord’s, London