Pakistan dropped Test specialist Asad Shafiq on Wednesday for next month’s two-Test series against New Zealand, and fast bowler Mohammad Amir and all-rounder Shoaib Malik were ignored for the Twenty20 team.
Shafiq holds Pakistan’s record of featuring in 72 consecutive Test matches, but chief selector Misbhah-ul-Haq said the 28-year-old middle-order batsman was dropped because of a dip in batting form.
The veteran of 77 Test matches scored only 67 runs in five innings against England in August, leading to his ouster from the Test team. Overall, he has scored 4,660 Test runs with 12 centuries and 27 half-centuries at an average of 38.19.
Pakistan will be carrying a big pool of 35 players to New Zealand. Players will also compete against the New Zealand A team.
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"Asad Shafiq has been left out due to lack of form,” Misbah said in a statement. “Asad is an experienced batsman and I am sure he will utilise this time to work harder on his game in the domestic first-class matches.
"Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir are not part of the white-ball matches as for this tour we have opted to invest, develop and focus on the promising and emerging players who are likely to be available to Pakistan for all formats.”
The Pakistan team will leave for New Zealand on Nov. 23 for the three Twenty20s and two Test matches. The Test matches at Mount Maunganui (Dec. 26-30) and Christchurch (Jan. 3-7) are part of ICC World Test Championship.
Babar Azam will lead Pakistan in both formats. Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan was named Azam’s deputy in Test matches while all-rounder Shadab Khan will be the vice-captain in Twenty20s.
"The matches in New Zealand are critical for us as we aim to improve our T20I rankings and also gain valuable points in the ICC World Test Championship,” Misbah said.
Pakistan is at No. 4 in the Twenty20 rankings and No. 5 in the World Test Championship with 166 points. India leads the table with 360 points, followed by Australia (296), England (292) and New Zealand (180).
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While the selectors have kept faith in veteran Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Hafeez for the Twenty20s, they have also included several uncapped players - middle-order batsmen Danish Aziz and Imran Butt, fast bowler Amad Butt and wicket-keeper batsman Rohail Nazir.
The team, which also includes 20 player support personnel, will spend the mandatory 14-day quarantine period in Lincoln before playing any intra-squad matches.
The Twenty20 series begins in Auckland on Nov. 18. Hamilton (Nov. 20) and Napier (Nov. 22) will host the remaining two matches.
Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Zeeshan Malik, Azhar Ali, Danish Aziz, Fawad Alam, Haider Ali, Haris Sohail, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imran Butt, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Rohail Nazir, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir, Yasir Shah, Zafar Gohar, Amad Butt, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Musa, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz.