Pakistan pick Manzoor, Raees for WT20
Pakistan have picked four uncapped players in the T20I format - batsmen Khurram Manzoor and Babar Azam, fast bowler Rumman Raees, and allrounder Mohammad Nawaz - in their squad for the World T20 in India in March and April. Fast bowler Mohammad Irfan also returned to the squad after missing the recent T20 internationals in New Zealand.
They left out opener Ahmed Shehzad from the squad that toured New Zealand in January, along with batsmen Shoaib Maqsood and Saad Nasim, wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan, allrounder Aamer Yamin and fast bowler Umar Gul.
Pakistan was supposed to announce their squad by February 8 but delayed doing so because the selectors were unsure about the opening slot. Shehzad's poor recent form meant his exclusion was inevitable, but the main debate centered around Manzoor. ESPNcricinfo understands that the head coach Waqar Younis has serious concerns over Manzoor's selection, and that the PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan has been unhappy with the chief selector Haroon Rasheed and has sounded out at least one former cricketer to take his place.
The other contenders for the opening slot were Sharjeel Khan and Kamran Akmal but the selectors, after the input of captain Shahid Afridi, preferred Manzoor.
Manzoor, who has played 16 Test matches and seven ODIs, has not played for Pakistan in any format since August 2014. His last selection to Pakistan's limited-overs teams came more than six years ago, in 2009 against Sri Lanka. He scored 309 runs at 28.09 in the domestic T20 competition last year and was not selected by any of the five teams in the ongoing Pakistan Super League. His selection remains the most contentious among the 15-man World T20 squad. The same squad will play in the Asia Cup as well.
"While picking the squad, the team management and skipper were consulted by the selectors, and all concerned gave their consent in this regard," chief selector Rasheed said in a statement. "The T20 team has been selected keeping in mind the conditions during Asia Cup and World T20 and the recent performances of some players in domestic and A team tours. The team is a fine blend of experience and youth and the selectors believe that team will do well in both tournaments."
Pakistan's bowling unit includes Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Anwar Ali while Gul, who failed to impress the selectors on his latest comeback from injury, has been dropped. The selectors, however, brought back Mohammad Irfan, whose inclusion gives the attack a more threatening look. Backing them up is the 24-year-old Raees, who has been among the most economical bowlers in the PSL so far.
Pakistan didn't name a specialist spinner but banked on allrounders Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim and new face Mohammad Nawaz - a left-arm spinner and a full-time batsman.
Nawaz, who picked up 10 wickets in the Under-19 World Cup in 2012 in Australia, has been a standout player with both bat and ball in the PSL, where he is currently the top wicket-taker.
Squad Shahid Afridi (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed, Babar Azam, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Khurram Manzoor, Rumman Raees
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson