Azhar in, Imad out as PCB names ODI squad

Lahore – Former captain Azhar Ali made a comeback while all-rounder Imad Wasim has been dropped as Pakistan named 15-member One-Day International squad for the five-match series against New Zealand.

Junaid Khan was also not included in ODI squad and was replaced by Amir Yamin in the team. “Imad Wasim was again feeling discomfort in his previously injured knee, which ruled him out from the ODI squad. Immad has been told to work on his fitness in the National Cricket Academy (NCA),” said chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Inzamam said the team has been selected keeping in mind the conditions and the recent performances of some players in the domestic tournament. “Azhar Ali has made a comeback in the ODI squad after being rested in the ODI series against Sri Lanka. He is making a comeback after gaining full fitness,” he said.

“Junaid Khan has been ruled out of the ODI squad due to a fracture in his right foot and doctors have advised him six-week rest. Amir Yamin comes in to replace the left-arm pacer in the squad,” he added.  According to PCB, the team was finalised after consultation with captain Sarfraz Ahmed and head coach Mickey Arthur. The T-20 squad will be announced later.

The five-match ODI series will take place from January 6, 2018, to January 19, 2018, whereas the T-20I series will commence from January 22 and will conclude on January 28, 2018.

The PCB has also announced a 9-member team management for the tour. Aun Zaidi has been promoted as the media manager while the physiotherapist for the team will be hired locally from New Zealand

The 15-member squad includes aggressive opener Fakhar Zaman and Inzamam’s nephew Imam-ul-Haq, who scored a century on his ODI debut against Sri Lanka. The experienced trio of Shoaib Malik, Babar Zaman and captain Sarfraz Ahmed form the nucleus of Pakistan’s middle-order lineup.

The PCB had initially called up 18 probables for a fitness test before finalising the squad. Apart from the ODI squad members that played against Sri Lanka, batsmen Umar Amin and Sohaib Maqsood and Amir Yamin were also called up for the fitness test, though only Yamin made the final cut. Both Azhar and M Hafeez are currently playing the Quaid-e-Azam trophy, and had underwent fitness tests earlier this month, while leg spinner Shadab Khan is playing the Big Bash League in Australia. All three were picked in the squad.

The ODI series takes place January 6-19. There is also a three-match Twenty20 series against New Zealand, starting January 22, with Pakistan’s squad to be named later.

Meanwhile, former captain Azhar Ali is hopeful of a good show by the national team in the five-match ODI series against New Zealand next month. Talking to media in Karachi, Azhar said that he’s fit and looking forward to performing well in the upcoming series, which commences on January 6. “I have played four matches in the domestic tournament after completing my rehabilitation work and I’m feeling much better,” he said. “I’m hopeful that I will remain fit and score well in the tour,” he added.

Azhar said the tour will be a challenging one for Pakistan as New Zealand has always been a good team on their home ground. “New Zealand is always good in home conditions but the way we are playing with the white ball in last few months is also very encouraging,” he said. “I’m hopeful that we will continue with our winning streak in limited over cricket,” he added.

Replying to a query, the former captain said he always tries to play positive cricket and according to the team’s requirement. “It’s not like that we are supposed to hit every ball. One must play positively and according to the conditions of the match and the team’s requirement,” he said.

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