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Shaheen Afridi to Lead Strong Pakistan Squad in T20I Bilateral Series Against New Zealand

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In a strategic move, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has entrusted the leadership of the T20I squad to the promising Shaheen Afridi for the upcoming series against New Zealand. Afridi’s first assignment as the full-time captain is scheduled to kick off on January 12, just days after the conclusion of the ICC World Test Championship series against Australia.

However, the squad announcement came with the disappointment of not having senior all-rounder Shadab Khan, who served as the vice-captain during the Men’s T20 World Cup last year. Shadab’s absence is attributed to an ankle injury sustained during the National T20, requiring two additional weeks of rehabilitation. Chief Selector Wahab Riaz expressed the significance of Shadab Khan in Pakistan’s T20 cricket and assured his return once fully fit.

In light of Shadab’s absence, the squad features several new faces, including three wicketkeepers. Notably, Mohammad Haris, a standout performer in the T20 World Cup, has been rested to explore other players who have excelled in domestic cricket.

A significant inclusion in the squad is the big-hitting wicketkeeper-batsman Azam Khan. Chief Selector Wahab Riaz emphasized the decision, stating, “We have watched Azam Khan very closely. At times, you have to prefer skills over fitness. If a player can win you a match, that’s more important than anything else.” Azam Khan, the son of former wicketkeeper Moin Khan, is slated to bat at the No.6 position, showcasing the team’s confidence in his high-impact performances in various leagues.

Another exciting addition to the squad is twenty-year-old Haseebullah Khan, who impressed in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). With three wicketkeepers in the squad, including Mohammad Rizwan and Azam Khan, Pakistan seems to be prioritizing depth and versatility in the crucial position.

However, notable fast bowlers Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah, and Ihsanullah were not considered for selection as they are in the recovery phase, working towards regaining full fitness.

The final squad comprises Shaheen Afridi (c), Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Saim Ayub, Sahibzada Farhan, Haseebullah Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Aamer Jamal, Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Mohammad Nawaz, Abrar Ahmed, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, and Zaman Khan. As Pakistan gears up for the T20I series in New Zealand, the mix of experienced players and emerging talents under Shaheen Afridi’s leadership promises an exciting and competitive cricketing spectacle.

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