Hasan Ali has been dropped from both Pakistan’s squad for the ODI series in the Netherlands as well for the Asia Cup T20Is later this month. Naseem Shah has been named in both squads. Shaheen Shah Afridi, who missed the second Test in Sri Lanka last month because of a knee injury, has been included in both squads, with a PCB statement saying, “his rehabilitation programme will be overseen by the team trainer and physiotherapist, who will also decide on his return to international cricket”.
Babar Azam continues to be in charge of both the set-ups, with Shadab Khan as his deputy.
Hasan’s form across formats in the last year has been middling at best, with his T20I bowling strike rate moving to 23.2; he has picked up eight wickets in nine games in this period. In the three ODIs he has played in the last 12 months – all at home between March and June this year – he averaged 76.50 with the ball, picking up two wickets overall. Earlier this year, in the PSL, he had a bowling average of 40.55 and had an economy rate of 10.84 as he got nine wickets in nine games for Islamabad United.
“We have done our homework, especially for the players who have served Pakistan well and have won so many games for the country,” Mohammad Wasim, the men’s chief selector, said when asked about Hasan. “To give them a longer run is a part of the plan, but then there is the stage when you realise that now is the time we think he needs a break for his own and the team’s betterment.
“So we had a similar thought process with Hasan Ali, to give him an extended run, but now we think he needs to regather himself and return as a match-winner. We hope going forward we will find the same old Hasan Ali.”
It has been a downward spiral for Hasan since last year’s T20 World Cup, where he dropped a catch that could, potentially, have won Pakistan the semi-final against Australia. He ended the tournament with five wicket in six bowling innings, at an average of 41.40 and an economy rate of 9.00.
Naseem, who has never played ODIs or T20Is, has taken Hasan’s place after a good performance in the two Tests in Sri Lanka last month, when he picked up seven wickets on not-very-helpful pitches. Naseem had struggled with fitness issues till recently, but has come back stronger.
“Naseem Shah is a quality bowler, and we have seen him in domestic white-ball cricket,” Wasim said. “He has got express pace and we wanted to include an attacking option; it is important to take wickets in white0ball cricket. He has that ability. He can swing the ball, he has got pace, and if we talk about his temperament, we have seen the evidence in Tests.
“He was a good replacement for Hasan Ali, and we hope he can take his success from red-ball to white-ball cricket.”
Agha Salman, the middle-order batter who made his international debut in the Test series against Sri Lanka last month, now has a chance of making his ODI debut in the Netherlands.
The selectors have also kept faith in PSL sensational Mohammad Haris, the wicketkeeper-batter, for the ODIs. He made his debut in the home series against West Indies in June, but failed both the times he got a chance to bat, scoring 6 and 0 from the middle order.
He has, however, been identified as the back-up to Mohammad Rizwan behind the stumps, which will likely ensure more opportunities, at least in the short term. Haris shot to prominence at PSL 7, scoring 166 runs in five innings at a strike rate of over 185 for Peshawar Zalmi. At the 50-over Pakistan Cup last year, he scored 289 runs in eight innings at an average of 41.28 and strike rate of over 100 for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The selected players will assemble in Lahore on August 6 for a six-day training camp. The ODI side will leave for Amsterdam in the wee hours of August 12 for the three-ODI series – the matches are on August 16, 18 and 21, all in Rotterdam – and the T20I specialists will reach Dubai on August 22, where they will be joined by the T20I members of the ODI squad.