Babar Azam has been chosen to lead the squad, which is a mix of seasoned and new players. Contrary to speculations, former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has been left out of the squad.
Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt and Haris Rauf are expected to debut in the series, while Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Shaheen Shah Afridi have been recalled in the 15-player squad for the T20 Internationals to be played on January 24, 25 and 27 in Lahore.
“We have combined old and new players in this squad in the hopes that they will be able to end Pakistan’s recent losing streak,” Misbah said before introducing the squad.
“We have lost eight of our last nine T20Is and as the number-one ranked side, this is unacceptable. We need to end our losing cycle and get back to winning habits leading into the upcoming Asia Cup and ICC T20 World Cup. This has played a critical role in our decision-making.”
On bringing Muhammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik back into the mix, Misbah said, “They are experienced players — with a total of 200 T20Is between them — they have performed before and we believe that they will do so in this upcoming series as well.”
Discussing the future of the seven dropped players who were part of the squad that recently lost to Sri Lanka, the chief selector said: “The seven players who have missed out on selection are by no means out of our planning but considering their recent form in international cricket and taking into account other strong performances in our National T20 Cup, we have decided to make these changes.”
When asked if Salman Butt is being “deliberately ignored” by the selection committee, the chief selector said that nothing of this sort is happening. “When we discuss whom to pick for the squad, a discussion on Salman Butt also takes place, we have no bias against him. Those are just speculations people make.”
Captain Babar Azam said that he was satisfied with the choices made by the selection committee. “I want to thank the selection committee for entertaining my request to bring in Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik. I believe they still have plenty to offer to Pakistan cricket in the shortest format and their experience can be critical to our performances in the upcoming series.
“Ahsan, Amad and Haris have recently shown promise and talent, and I think it is the right time to throw them at the deep end to check their ability to perform at an international level. I am sure home crowd and conditions will complement their talent and they will be able to justify their selections.”
Babar Azam (C)
Shaheen Shah Afridi