LAHORE (Reuters) – Shoaib Malik will lead Pakistan in this month’s one-day series against Australia after the cricket board decided to rest six players including regular captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, for the five matches in the United Arab Emirates.
Sarfaraz, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan and Shaheen Afridi have been rested to keep them fresh ahead of the World Cup in England and Wales, the Pakistan cricket Board (PCB) said on Friday.
“The changes have been made taking into consideration the player workload in the build up to the World Cup,” chairman of selectors Inzamam-ul-Haq said in a statement, pointing to their 11 matches before their first match of the showpiece event against West Indies on May 31.
“This is too much cricket in a short period of time. Had there been no pre-World Cup matches in England, then we would not have made these many changes.”
All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez was not considered as he is recovering from surgery on his thumb, the PCB said after unveiling a 16-member squad that included the uncapped quartet of Abid Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain and Saad Ali.
“I am pleased that we have been able to develop a strong bench strength that has helped us to make eight changes from the previous series,” Inzamam said.
“This is a good sign for Pakistan cricket as we now have a big pool of players who have the capability, talent and potential, and are raring to step up and seize the opportunity when thrown at the deep end.”
Sharjah hosts the first ODI against Australia on March 22, and the series concludes on March 31 in Dubai.
ODI squad: Shoaib Malik (captain), Abid Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Sohail, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Saad Ali, Shan Masood, Umar Akmal, Usman Shinwari, Yasir Shah
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Hugh Lawson)