Pakistan to rest their star players including Babar Azam for Afghanistan ODIs

Pakistan and Afghanistan are set to face each other in a bilateral series for the first time. The two teams will be playing a three-match ODI series in Sri Lanka starting from September 3. The series was under serious doubt after Taliban taking over Afghanistan but the board’s CEO Hamid Shinwari confirmed on Thursday that the tour was on and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is also on the same page.

Meanwhile, Pakistan are set to use this series to give a breather to their top four players – Babar Azam, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan and Hasan Ali. All these four players are set to be rested to manage their workloads and keep them fresh ahead of the T20 World Cup set to be played in October-November.

According to a report in ESPNCricinfo, the quartet was requesting for a rest for quite some time now and with T20 World Cup being the priority, the PCB reckons the Afghanistan ODIs is the better time to rest them. It is understandable too given bio-bubble protocols these days as Babar Azam (40) and Mohamad Rizwan (44) have played most international matches since cricket resumed in June last year.

Shaheen Afridi also played 37 matches while Hasan Ali has taken the field in 20 games after recovering from injury. Besides this, all four cricketers have also featured in two Pakistan Super League (PSL) seasons during this period.

Pakistan squad to be named on August 20

The ESPNCricinfo report also revealed that Pakistan will be announcing the squad for the ODI series on Friday (August 20). Even in the absence of the top four players, the PCB is confident that the team will do well. Moreover, these ODIs are a part of ICC World Cup Super League and each game will be of equal importance.

While there is no idea over who will be handed the captaincy for the three ODIs, Rizwan being rested certainly paves way for Sarfaraz Ahmed’s return to the side who has only warmed the bench for a year or so now. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan are expected to leave for Sri Lanka soon as they will also have to be in quarantine for three days before starting the training.