Mohammad Hafeez left out for South Africa T20Is after bio-bubble deadlock

Pakistan's leading T20 run-scorer Mohammad Hafeez has been omitted from the 20-man squad for the three-match T20I series against South Africa.

Mohammad Hafeez is Pakistan's leading T20 run-scorer.   -  Getty Images

Pakistan has left out veteran batsman Mohammad Hafeez from its Twenty20 squad for the series against South Africa because he would not meet the Pakistan Cricket Board's deadline for players to enter a bio-secure bubble.

The PCB had said that all players had to be in the team's bubble by Feb. 3 ahead of the three-match series against the Proteas that starts on Feb. 11.

Hafeez, who is not among the PCB's centrally contracted players, is currently playing in the T10 League in the United Arab Emirates. He had asked the PCB to allow him to join the team in Lahore after the Feb. 3 deadline.

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“Unfortunately, the scenario is such that every player has to join the (bio) bubble on Feb. 3 and if a player can’t do so, it means he is unavailable,” chief selector Mohammad Wasim said.

“If he (Hafeez) was available, there’s no question on his performance, but unfortunately he is not available.”

Hafeez, 40, has scored 2,323 runs in 99 Twenty20 internationals at a strike rate of 121.30 and 14 half-centuries. He was the world’s leading T20 cricketer last year, scoring 415 runs in 10 matches at an average of 83 and a strike rate of 152.57.

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The selectors have recalled Asif Ali, who is also playing in the T10 League in the UAE, but Wasim said the batsman will join the team by the Feb. 3 deadline.

The selectors dropped opening batsman Fakhar Zaman and fast bowler Wahab Riaz due to their recent poor performances while all-rounder Shadab Khan is still nursing a leg injury. Pakistan’s other Twenty20 regular — all-rounder Imad Wasim — was unavailable because of a family commitment.

Left-handed opener Fakhar could score only 192 runs in his last 17 Twenty20 internationals at an average of 11.29 while left-arm fast bowler Riaz took six wickets in his last 8 T20 internationals.

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In addition to Asif, fast bowler Hasan Ali and Aamer Yamir were also recalled to the Twenty20 team that includes four rookie players — Zafar Gohar, Danish Aziz, Zahid Mehmood and Amad Butt.

The South African Twenty20 squad will arrive in Pakistan on Feb. 3. All three matches will be played in Lahore on Feb. 11, 13 and 14.

The PCB said that Pakistan players taking part in the Test series who are also part of the Twenty20 team will join the bubble in Lahore at the end of the second Test, which starts in Rawalpindi on Feb. 4.

Pakistan squad: Babar Azam, Haider Ali, Khushdil Shah, Hussain Talat, Danish Aziz, Asif Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Zafar Gohar, Faheem Ashraf, Aamer Yamin, Amad Butt, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Hasan Ali, Usman Qadir, Zahid Mehmood
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