'Best team has been selected. No possibility of change': Babar squashes comeback hopes of Pakistan veteran

Updated on Aug 12, 2022 04:48 PM IST

Babar Azam backed his youngsters to fill the void created by both batters. “When senior players leave the side, those replacing them need to focus,” said the Pakistan captain in a presser on Thursday.

Pakistan cricket team's skipper Babar Azam(AP)
Pakistan cricket team's skipper Babar Azam(AP)
By, New Delhi

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam backed Hasan Ali's return to world cricket after the pacer was dropped for the upcoming ODI series against Netherlands and the T20 Asia Cup as well. Babar described Ali as a team man and predicted him to make a strong comeback despite his subdued white-ball form. While Ali's hopes to lift his career still remain firm, there are high chances that fans might not see a seasoned player making his comeback moving forward.

Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez will not be part of Pakistan’s team for the upcoming Asia Cup, which begins in the UAE on August 27. Malik, a veteran of 124 T20I matches, wasn't considered for selection while Hafeez announced his retirement from international cricket earlier this year. Both played the last World T20 and remain two of the most experienced players in the Pakistan set-up.

Babar backed his youngsters to fill the void created by both batters. “When senior players leave the side, those replacing them need to focus,” he said in a presser on Thursday. “Hafeez and Malik were huge players and we’ll miss them a lot."

"After consultation with the coach and selectors, the best team has been selected. The Asia Cup is immediately after the Netherlands tour, so there is no possibility of a change in the team."

“Players like Asif Ali, Khushdil Shah and Iftikhar need to fill their boots. We want to give them plenty of matches and confidence, and these players have performed. We’re also looking to utilize Shadab Khan’s batting, because batting depth is very useful in T20 cricket now," he added.

Babar also shared a major update on Shaheen Shah Afridi's fitness. The fast bowler missed the second Test against Sri Lanka with a knee injury.

The Pakistan skipper said that they will test the bench strength, with Afridi's fitness being a long-term objective when the World T20 is about a couple of months away.

“We’re taking a couple of doctors on the way to take care of Shaheen,” Babar said. “We’re looking long term at his fitness and health. We want him to play a game against the Netherlands, provided he’s fit, and be ready for the Asia Cup."

“Our fast bowling bench strength is excellent. They’ve now got an opportunity to showcase their skills. This is how you expand your pool," he added.

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