Awais Zia named in Pakistan T20 squad
Awais Zia is the only new face in Pakistan's limited-overs squads for the ongoing series against England. The Rawalpindi batsman has been named only in the Twenty20 squad, while the one-day unit retains the bulk of the Test team, except for Taufeeq Umar and Mohammad Talha, who will return home. Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik and batsman Hammad Azam will join the squad in the UAE. Malik was not in the original squads but was added shortly after at the captain Misbah-ul-Haq's request.
The notable absentee was allrounder Abdul Razzaq, who was part of the team's one-day plans in recent times. He played in the five-ODI series against Sri Lanka in November but missed the series in Bangladesh because of a shoulder injury. He underwent a brief rehabilitation, and went on to play in Australia's Big Bash League Twenty20 tournament, but told ESPNcricinfo that his shoulder wasn't yet 100% fit for international assignments.
"We actually wanted to carry on with the winning sequence," Azhar Khan, selection committee member told ESPNcricinfo. "It is a different ball game and I don't think we should take England side lightly. The limited-overs series is wide open for both teams. The team that quickly adapts itself in the format can take the upper hand."
Azam toured Pakistan in the West Indies last year and his last one-dayer for Pakistan was against Ireland in Belfast in May. Zia was the leading run-getter for Rawalpindi Rams and the fourth-highest run-getter in the domestic Twenty20 with 177 runs from five games. He made his first-class debut in 2007.
"We always look for room to blood a youngster in the side, to test the prospect of the talent," Azhar said. "The inclusion of Zia and Hammad is a part of the proposition. Unfortunately we have been deprived from hosting the series on our home grounds, and we can't try out our talented players more openly.
"Zia is a shining star and we have picked him in a format that is well suited for him. Now it is his own responsibility to justify the opportunity. Hammad was definitely in line from many years but wasn't given a proper chance due to combination in the squad."
Pakistan will play Afghanistan in a one-off one-dayer in Sharjah on February 10, before the four-match ODI series against England begins in Abu Dhabi on February 13. Pakistan go into the series buoyed by their historic 3-0 whitewash of the world's No. 1 Test side, England.
"Obviously, the expectations have increased after the Test series win, and we have specialist cricketers for the [limited-overs] formats as well," Azhar said. "I am optimistic that Pakistan will continue the winning streak to end the tour on high."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent