Pakistan’s young fast bowler, Naseem Shah, won’t be part of the ODI World Cup due to a shoulder injury. Pakistan has just revealed its final 15-member squad for the tournament starting next month. Inzamam-ul-Haq, the chief selector, unveiled the squad, which saw the experienced medium pacer Hasan Ali being brought in as a replacement for Naseem, who sustained a shoulder injury during a match against India in the Asia Cup and has been advised to undergo surgery. This injury is a significant setback for Pakistan’s World Cup hopes, as Naseem was seen as a rising star in their fast-bowling arsenal. However, despite this setback, the squad remains largely unchanged, with Shadab Khan and Mohammad Wasim being the chosen spinners, and Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf retaining their places in the pace attack.
In recent months, Pakistan’s pace bowlers have delivered impressive performances, but their spinners have struggled, causing concern for the team’s management heading into the World Cup. Shadab Khan, in particular, has had a tough time both with the bat and the ball. Former players have also voiced their concerns, with Shahid Afridi, the former captain of the team, discussing this issue during Shadab’s attendance at Afridi’s daughter’s wedding, where they had a candid conversation.
Afridi emphasized the need for a dedicated spin bowling coach, suggesting that spinners play a crucial role during the middle overs when the opposition’s top batters are at the crease. He expressed disappointment at Pakistan’s spinners’ recent performances and offered his assistance to Shadab, stating, “When you have a fielding and batting coach, and a fast bowling coach is also there, why not a spin bowling coach? Spinners’ role is the most important, remember that. Middle-overs are very important because opposition’s main batters are playing at the time. You have to pick wickets and maintain the run rate. We haven’t had the desired performances there.”
Afridi assured Shadab of his availability and willingness to help, saying, “When Shadab came to the wedding, I talked to him, told him whenever you need help, you have Mushi bhai, you have me. He said, Lala, I wanted to ask you about this. I want to bring you to the camp as well. I said I’m always available for you.” He expressed hope that Shadab would make a strong comeback with the support of the captain and coach.
As for Pakistan’s World Cup preparations, they are scheduled to play two warm-up matches against New Zealand on September 29 and Australia on October 3 before their tournament opener against the Netherlands on October 6. The World Cup will be the highlight of the cricket calendar, taking place in India throughout October and November.
Pakistan’s World Cup squad includes Babar Azam (Captain), Shadab Khan (Vice-Captain), Muhammad Rizwan, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Saud Shakeel, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Muhammad Nawaz, Muhammad Wasim Junior, Agha Salman, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Osama Mir. The traveling reserves are Muhammad Haris, Abrar Ahmed, and Zaman Khan.