Pakistan announces squad for T20Is vs New Zealand

After a disappointing ODI World Cup 2023 campaign, Babar Azam relinquished captaincy in all formats. While Shan Masood was announced as the new Test captain, Shaheen Afridi took up the mantle in the T20Is. The left-arm seamer will begin his captaincy tenure next month as Pakistan are scheduled to travel to New Zealand for a five-match T20I series beginning on January 12.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced a 17-member squad for the T20I assignment against New Zealand on Tuesday, December 19. Shaheen will be leading the side that has a fine balance between youth and experience. The veteran duo of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan are in the side along with the fiery pacer Haris Rauf as well. However, Shadab Khan, who was the vice-captain of Pakistan during the 2022 T20 World Cup, is missing from the side due to an injury.

“Shadab Khan is a very important member of Pakistan T20 cricket. Unfortunately, he suffered an ankle injury (during the National T20) and requires 2 further weeks of rehab. After that, he’ll be available to bowl,” Chief Selector Wahab Riaz said during the squad announcement.

We want to give Azam Khan a chance at No. 6: Wahab Riaz

The former Pakistan pacer Wahab Riaz said that wicketkeeper-batter Azam Khan, who is the son of former wicketkeeper Moin Khan, is going to get a chance to bat at No. 6. Azam and twenty-year-old Haseebullah Khan, who excelled during the Pakistan Super League (PSL), are the two wicketkeepers in the side apart from Rizwan.

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. We’ve seen he’s a high-impact player in PSL, domestic cricket, other leagues – we’ve tried many players at No.6 so now we want to give Azam a chance,” Riaz said.

The fast bowling trio of Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah, and Ihsanullah were not considered for selection as they are recovering and regaining fitness. Pakistan are currently playing a three-match Test series against Australia Down Under. They lost the first match in Perth by 360 runs. The second Test begins on Tuesday, December 26, in Melbourne.

Pakistan squad: 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, Zaman Khan.