Haris Sohail, Fakhar Zaman return to Pakistan squad for New Zealand ODIs
Pakistan pick uncapped players Tayyab Tahir, Kamran Ghulam and Usama Mir in squad of 16
Pakistan have recalled middle-order batter Haris Sohail and opening batter Fakhar Zaman for their three ODIs against New Zealand next week. The 16-man squad also includes maiden call-ups for 29-year-old middle-order batter Tayyab Tahir, legspinner Usama Mir, and middle-order batter Kamran Ghulam.
Shadab Khan sustained a finger injury at the Big Bash League, and has consequently been ruled out. Scans revealed a fractured index finger, for which he has been advised three weeks' rest.
"We had limited ODI cricket last year and this year, we are scheduled to play 11 ODIs before we participate in the ACC Asia Cup, followed by the World Cup in conditions that will be familiar to us," Shahid Afridi, the interim chief selector, said at a press conference announcing the squad. "So we aim to make optimum use of these 11 ODIs by providing opportunities to our consistent performers that will enable us to select the best available players for the two important tournaments."
Tahir was recently the Player of the Match when he scored 71 in the Pakistan Cup final for Central Punjab against Balochistan. He was also the leading scorer in the one-day tournament with a tally of 573 runs from 12 innings at an average of nearly 48 and strike rate of nearly 100. He hit one century and five half-centuries.
Ghulam was fourth on the list of scorers in the Pakistan Cup with 435 runs from just six innings, averaging 145 and striking at 101.16.
The inclusion of Sohail and Zaman represents a turnaround for both players, who were initially omitted from the probables for this series altogether. In a post on Twitter, Afridi announced they had been added to the probables, and have each now made the final cut. Sohail, 33, last played ODI cricket in 2020, though he played the recent Pakistan Cup, where he scored 129 runs in four innings.
Legspinner Mir has been rewarded for a strong Pakistan Cup showing where he finished as the highest wicket-taker with 28 strikes at 17.96. Afridi expressed frustration at Shadab's absence, and suggested players might not be given NOCs while Pakistan's domestic season was ongoing.
NO WAYYYYY— Usama Mir (@iamusamamir) January 5, 2023
"I'm totally against letting players go abroad to play cricket while the domestic season is ongoing," Afridi said. "During the off-season, they should absolutely be allowed to go. We've allowed some players to go to the Bangladesh Premier League, but I've told all the boys they need to be back 10 days before the PSL. It's Pakistan's league and brand, and it needs to be given time."
Mohammad Rizwan keeps his place in the ODI side, with Afridi clarifying he was Pakistan's first choice white-ball wicketkeeper. There is no other wicketkeeper in the squad. Haris Rauf, who was ruled out of the last four Tests with a quad injury, also returns.
Pakistan ODI squad for New Zealand series: Babar Azam (capt), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Salman Agha, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood, Tayyab Tahir, Usama Mir
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000