Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent
Pakistan's Sohaib Maqsood has been ruled out of the upcoming T20 World Cup after failing an MRI scan on his lower back. Shoaib Malik will replace him in the squad, the PCB has confirmed*. Maqsood had sustained a back injury on October 6 while playing for Southern Punjab against Northern during the National T20 Cup at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, which required him to rest and undergo an extensive rehabilitation process.
"Sohaib is devastated to miss out on the ICC Men's T20 World Cup as he had worked hard for this event and was in sparkling form," chief selector Muhammad Wasim said in the PCB release. "We feel for him but injuries are part and parcel of the sport. I am sure after undergoing rehabilitation, he'll fully recover to be available for future assignments.
"In his place and following discussions with the team management, we have decided to include Shoaib Malik in the side. I am sure Shoaib's experience will be handy for the entire squad."
Malik was the captain of the side in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 and was a member of the squad that lifted the trophy in 2009. He also played in the 2012, 2014 and 2016 editions.
But he has not played for Pakistan since the England tour last year and the selectors initially opted against picking him for the World Cup by preferring a younger prospect, while looking into the future. Malik continued to play T20 leagues around the world, averaging 30.85 with a strike rate of 133.16 in the last one year in 49 games. His inclusion now has made him the most capped player for Pakistan in ICC events - two ODI World Cups (2011 and 2019), six Champions Trophies, and this will be his sixth T20 World Cup.
More recently, however, Malik did not have a great run in the CPL for Guyana Amazon Warriors. In 11 games for them, he managed just 67 runs at an average of 7.44, the worst for a specialist batter (in the top six with minimum 10 innings) in a T20 tournament.
Maqsood had been in good form since making his return to the national team after a gap of five years, making a mark in recent tours of England and the West Indies. He then followed it up by helping Multan Sultans to the PSL title this year, scoring five half-centuries from 12 innings at the top of the order and getting more runs in boundaries than any other player in the league.
Since the start of 2020 and leading up to this season's PSL, Maqsood had the highest T20 strike rate among Pakistan batters and the ninth best on the global list (among those with a minimum of 500 runs and 20 innings). It was a marked improvement for the batter, who was previously striking at 125.79.
The Pakistan squad will depart for Dubai on October 15 and will play two warm-up games, against West Indies and South Africa on October 18 and 20, before they begin their main campaign in a high-profile clash against India on October 24 in Dubai.
Squad: Babar Azam (capt), Shadab Khan (vice-capt), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Shaheen Afridi, Shoaib Malik. Traveling reserves: Khushdil Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir.
*11.10 GMT: The story was updated after the PCB issued a release