LONDON: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) included experienced fast bowlers Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir and hard-hitting batsman Asif Ali in the Pakistan’s final World Cup squad following a loss to England in the one-day series.
Hard-hitting batsman Asif Ali also made the World Cup team – at the expense of opening batsman Abid Ali – with his two half centuries against England. On Abid Ali, chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq 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,” the chief selector added.
Leg-spinner Shadab Khan has fully recovered from illness and replaced Yasir Shah, who was named as cover for Shadab for the one-day series against England. “The doctors have declared Shadab Khan fully fit and he also played a league match in England a couple of days back without any problem,” Inzamam said.
Wahab Riaz replaced all-rounder Faheem Ashraf while M Amir came in place of Junaid Khan as Pakistan made three changes to its originally announced World Cup squad. All teams can change their World Cup squads until May 23 without prior permission from the International Cricket Council (ICC). Pakistan lost the ODI series against England 4-0 with their bowlers leaking more than 300 runs in all four games.
Amir was part of the Pakistan’s 17-member squad in England but couldn’t play in any of the ODIs after getting chickenpox. “We realized after the series against England that wickets (during the World Cup) will be more true for batting and we need experienced bowlers,” said Inzamam.
Explaining the decision to recall Wahab Riaz, Inzamam 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,” said Inzamam.
Inzamam said Amir was also recalled purely on the basis of the left-armer’s ability to bowl well in English conditions. Amir has taken only five wickets in his last 14 ODIs since Pakistan won the Champions Trophy in England in 2017. “We couldn’t see him bowl during the series against England but he is a senior bowler,” Inzamam said and added: “He has a vast experience of bowling in English conditions and that’s why we have selected him.”