RAWALPINDI    -     Northern head coach Mohammad Wasim announced a balanced and competitive 16-member squad for the upcoming National T20 Cup 2019 First Class, which will take place at Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad from October 13 to 24.

Addressing the press conference here at Pindi Stadium on Thursday, Wasim said: “I have picked two players from Second XI, which include all-rounder Ali Imran and Naved Malik, both are specialist white ball players, while I have seasoned campaigners like Sohail Tanvir, M Amir, Shadab Khan and M Nawaz. Imad Wasim will lead the side while Umar Amin will be his deputy. Hammad Azam, Haider Ali, Rohail Nazir, fiery pacer Haris Rauf, M Musa and Shaheen Shah.”

He said overall, he has a highly top class side, which will gather momentum and pose serious challenge for the title. “There is no favourite amongst all the six participating teams, as all are well equipped and have highly experienced players. But if I talk purely about shorter format specialists, then Northern team has the edge and I am sure they will perform according to the situation.”

Waseem highlighted that the bowlers are struggling due to their own weaknesses. “In the past, they had tailor-made pitches, where they just bowl at the line and length and wickets came their way thick and fast. Now they have to bend their backs that’s why they don’t pick wickets. The pitches are ideal, where grass is left while kookaburra balls are the best and gradually, the fast bowlers will start taking wickets, if they work hard and keep on doing their best.

“Shadab is struggling to get wickets. After his recovery from sickness, he needs chances. As long as he gets matches, he will regain confidence and will be amongst the top wicket-takers. The matter of the fact is that we don’t have back-up of Shadab nor Pakistan cricket is enjoying liberty when it comes to off spin department. The NCA is working on war-footings on these lines and I am sure soon we will find a number of quality leg-spinners and off-spinners,” he asserted.

He said: “I go for experience and talent. Sohail Tanvir will provide depth in bowling and like we all know, he is a, automatic choice of every international league in shorter format, I seriously feel, he still has a lot of cricket in him and he has a bright future in T20 format and he can represent Pakistan team once again.

Same is the case with Umar Amin, Hammad Azam and others and only criterion of for them to get a chance to play for national team is performance and there is no short cut to success. Haris Rauf is future of Pakistan cricket and he bowled well during Quiad-e-Azam Trophy debut match. He is bound to excel and has a bright chance to represent national team, if he works hard.

“I have picked all the players purely on merit and within available resources. I have kept in mind future of Pakistan cricket and youngsters, as the team is a blend of youth and experience and I can see no reason why they can’t perform for themselves and the team.”

When asked about Pakistan cricket team’s worst performances against Sri Lankan team, Wasim said: “International team can never be termed as A, B or C. They were professionals and they didn’t have anything to lose as there was no pressure on young guns. If they had brought their top players, they might have struggled hard to win.

“It is unjust to start criticising Misbah so early; rather we must give him at least 6 months time. If he fails to produce satisfactory results even after the given time, he should be held answerable. I think Misbah is a proven stuff and he can address all those grey areas of the national team,” he added.

The former pacer said: “I feel few fresh faces should have been included in the squad for exposure, but I still believe Sri Lankan youngsters played fearless cricket, that’s why they produced better results in T20 series.

“I think Pakistan team is more than capable of bouncing back. There is tough competition for places in the national team and now it is perfect time for the youngsters to give consistent performances in National T20 Cup and earn place in PSL-5,” Wasim concluded.