Pakistan departs for Johannesburg for white ball series
The 34-member Pakistan squad, including 13 officials and 21 players, departed for Johannesburg on a chartered flight on Friday morning.
On the South Africa tour, Pakistan will play three ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League matches from 2-7 April and four T20Is from 10-16 April. The side will then depart for Harare for three T20Is and two Tests, before returning home on 12 May.
The chartered flight of the PIA would also bring back Pakistanis in South Africa upon its return journey as Pakistan has suspended the flight operation between the two countries due to the coronavirus threat and emergence of a new more deadly coronavirus variant in South Africa.
Originally a 35-member squad was supposed to head to South Africa. However, an injury to uncapped middle-order batsman Saud Shakeel forced the management to withdraw him from the ODI squad against South Africa after he suffered a Grade-1 quadriceps tear in his left leg during Wednesday’s 50-over-a-side practice match in Lahore.
The selection committee, in consultation with the team management, has replaced Saud with Asif Ali, who is already part of the T20I squad for the series in South Africa and Zimbabwe. As Saud is also part of the two-Test squad against Zimbabwe, he will now stay back at the National High Performance Centre to complete his rehabilitation. If he regains fitness in time, then he will travel to Harare on 12 April along with other 10 members of the Test side.
In a virtual media talk on Thursday, National team head coach Misbahul Haq said that he was pinning high hopes on the pace attack to deliver a decisive punch. “We have a potent pace attack for the white-ball cricket. Hasan Ali is back with Shaheen Shah Afridi leading the attack. Mohammad Husnain and Faheem Ashraf also make a solid combination for the limited-overs cricket. The pace bowling will be our ace card and I hope it would make a difference during the series.”
Misbah also recalled Pakistan’s recent performance in South Africa. “We always put up a decent show in white-ball cricket in South Africa. It is the Test cricket where we struggled. We won the ODI series there and even stretched the last series to the fifth ODI. We always found good conditions for white-ball cricket in South Africa. We have got a good balance this time.”
“We have got a good record on the two grounds and are hopeful this trend would continue. Admitted that we don’t have enough time to train and get accustomed to the environment, yet we are confident of putting up a resolute show and hopefully would go on to win the series.”
Misbah added that the team was carrying the success it achieved against South Africa at home. “Our morale is high after an encouraging performance during home series against South Africa. We are carrying forward the confidence that we got from that victory.”
The plus point was that all the seniors tried to lead from the front.
“Babar Azam is setting high standards for others to follow. Mohammad Rizwan and Shadab Khan also delivered to tell others that nothing less than top performance is required.”
The head coach denied lowering the fitness bar as was announced by the chief selector Mohammad Wasim. “I want to make it clear that we had selected the members of the touring squad after thorough discussions. No one was against Sharjeel’s selection. We want to get the best out of him. Taking him in the team and camp training, actually we are trying to take his fitness closer to the international standard. We would keep on reviewing the players’ performance. We also have called up Azam Khan and Sohaib Maqsood for training at the NHPC.”
T20I Squad: Babar Azam (captain) (Central Punjab), Shadab Khan (vice-captain) (Northern), Arshad Iqbal (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Asif Ali (Northern), Danish Aziz (Sindh), Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab), Haider Ali (Northern), Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Mohammad Hafeez (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh), Mohammad Nawaz (Northern), Mohammad Rizwan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Wasim Jnr (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Sharjeel Khan (Sindh) and Usman Qadir (Central Punjab)
ODI Squad: Babar Azam (captain) (Central Punjab), Shadab Khan (vice-captain) (Northern), Abdullah Shafique (Central Punjab), Danish Aziz (Sindh), Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab), Fakhar Zaman (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Haider Ali (Northern), Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Imam-ul-Haq (Balochistan), Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh), Mohammad Nawaz (Northern), Mohammad Rizwan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Wasim Jnr (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh), Asif Ali (Northern), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Usman Qadir (Central Punjab)
Players Support Personnel: Mansoor Rana (Manager), Misbah-ul-Haq (head coach), Abdul Majeed (fielding coach), Cliffe Deacon (physiotherapist), Col (retd) Khalid Mahmood (security manager), Malang Ali (masseur), Raza Kitchlew (Digital and media manager), Dr Riaz Ahmed (team doctor), Shahid Aslam (assistant to head coach), Usman Hashmi (analyst), Waqar Younis (bowling coach), Yasir Malik (strength & conditioning coach) and Younis Khan (batting coach).
2 April - 1st ODI; SuperSport Park, Pretoria
4 April - 2nd ODI; Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
7 April - 3rd ODI; SuperSport Park, Pretoria
10 April - 1st T20I; Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
12 April - 2nd T20I; Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
14 April - 3rd T20I; SuperSport Park, Pretoria
16 April -4th T20I; SuperSport Park, Pretoria