The Pakistani cricket team, led by Babar Azam, revealed its line-up for the 2023 World Cup on Friday. The team grapples with the absence of Naseem Shah, who has been ruled out due to a shoulder injury suffered during the Asia Cup encounter against India. Replacing Naseem in the squad is right-arm pacer Hasan Ali, making his comeback after last playing an ODI in June 2022. Haris Rauf, who also had an injury scare during the Asia Cup, has managed to secure his position in the team. Fakhar Zaman also retains his place in the squad.
Naseem’s shoulder injury has raised concerns about his return even after the World Cup, slated for October-November. This news was revealed by PCB chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq during the squad announcement press conference. “The reports that we have got suggest that Naseem Shah will be out for quite some time and not only the World Cup. It is a big blow for Pakistan with the kind of bowling he was doing with the new ball as well as at the death,” Inzamam explained.
Hasan Ali, who is replacing Naseem, is no stranger to the Pakistani side, having represented them in 60 ODIs, including the 2019 World Cup. “We wanted someone who has experience of playing in big tournaments and can pick wickets in the middle, so we have gone with Hasan Ali,” said Inzamam, justifying the decision to include him.
One surprising exclusion from the team is Faheem Ashraf. The decision to leave him out was made considering the need for middle-over prowess in the bowling attack. Inzamam noted that this area was a weakness in the Asia Cup, leading to the decision. “We were struggling to pick wickets in the middle overs in Asia Cup and we know that we have to take wickets in the middle to win matches in India. So we have picked bowlers who can do that,” he explained.
The Pakistan squad for the 2023 World Cup includes Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Agha Salman, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Usama Mir, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jr, and Hasan Ali. Despite the injury setbacks, the team has a mix of experienced players and promising talents, setting the stage for an exciting World Cup season.