Misbah-ul-Haq, ex captain, chief Selector cum Head Coach and batting coach announced the squad for the upcoming tour in Australia which featured the comeback of bowler Mohammad Irfan and saw Mohammad Rizwan replace former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.
As Misbah is well known for his passiveness and will never own any action, he has attributed the removal of Sarfaraz as captain to the Chairman of PCB. He is already playing on a back foot as the most responsible person in PCB.
In recent press conference, he emphasise that selection in all format was made purely on fitness basis but failed to defend selection of Kashif Bhatti and fast bowler Imran Khan senior, as what basis they were selected. He also defended selection of Imam-ul-Haq by saying he was man of the match in domestic T20 but failed to justify dropping of Ahmed Shazad who was top scorer in the tournament.
When he named the T20 and Test team captain Babar Azam and Azhar Ali respectively, he also mentioned that only to defeat Australia was “to play aggressive cricket” and the board while selecting players for the squad had kept that in mind. Although he himself never played aggressively and not to forget against Australia in 2017 when he scored only 75 runs in 6 innings, even Mohammad Amir scored 118 in same number of innings.
Pakistan will play three T20s against Australia, the first of which will be held on November 3 in Sydney. The second T20 will be played in Canberra on November 5, while the third in Perth on November 8.
The first Test will be played from November 21-25 in Brisbane, while the second will be held in Adelaide from November 29 till December 3.
As announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) earlier, Sarfaraz Ahmed was not included in either squad. Fast bowler Hasan Ali was also left out because he is under a rehab programme after his back injury. Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad, who had been included in the T20 team for the series against Sri Lanka, have also been excluded. The chief selector also decided to keep Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik out of the squads.
The squad for the 20-overs format includes: Babar Azam (c), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imamul Haq, Shadab Khan, Moosa Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan, Wahab Riaz, Khushdil Shah, and Usman Qadir.
The squad for the Test series includes: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imamul Haq, Imran Khan senior, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Moosa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood and Yasir Shah.
Sarfaraz removal due to poor form
Speaking about Sarfaraz’s removal, Misbah said that the sole reason for the former skipper’s removal from the T20 and Test squads was his poor form.
“Strange theories are popping up on the media [regarding Sarfaraz’s removal]. It is a simple thing.
“We have always backed Sarfaraz. He is a good enough player, he has done a lot for Pakistan but this decision [to remove him] was taken due to his form recently.”
Answering about Sarfaraz’s future, he said, “I think it is just the matter of regaining his form. As soon as his form is restored. I think the doors are open. There is no conspiracy or any such thing in the matter. It is a straightforward thing. I think it is a clear message for Sarfaraz and others as well.”
A million dollars question, after all the justification by chief Selector cum Head Coach and batting coach Misbah-ul-Haq, will he take full responsibility if Pakistan fails in Australia?