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LAHORE: Pakistan cricket selectors have continued to reward domestic performers and show faith in emerging cricketers as they named formidable sides for the upcoming challenges in South Africa and Zimbabwe where the national men's side will play seven T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests.

The seven T20Is and two Tests will count towards the ICC T20I and Test Team Rankings, while the three ODIs against South Africa will be part of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League - a 13-team competition from which the top seven sides will qualify automatically for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023.

The 35-member Pakistan squad will depart for Johannesburg on 26th March for the three ODIs and four T20Is against South Africa. They will then fly to Bulawayo on 17 April for three T20Is and two Tests against Zimbabwe. The side is scheduled to return on 12th May.

Prior to their departure for Johannesburg, a training camp for the white-ball players will be held at the Gaddafi Stadium from 19th March. The players will arrive in Lahore on 18th March following 16th March PCR tests in their respective cities and will undergo further PCR tests on 18, 21 and 24 March. During the Lahore camp, the players will remain in a bio-secure environment.

The T20I and ODI sides include 18 players each with 14 players featuring in both the formats, while the Test squad comprises 20 players with eight players figuring across all three formats. These eight players are Babar Azam (captain), Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Pakistan white-ball vice-captain Shadab Khan and T20I specialist Mohammad Hafeez have returned to the side after missing the South Africa series. In addition to the two experienced campaigners, the selectors have also recalled 31-year-old left-handed opener Sharjeel Khan to the T20I side, four years after his 15th and last T20I match. In the 2020-21 season, Sharjeel scored 233 runs in the National T20 Cup, while he was third behind Mohammad Rizwan (297 runs) and Babar Azam (258 runs) with 200 runs in five HBL Pakistan Super League 6 matches before the event was postponed.

The newcomers in the white-ball squads are 20-year-old Swabi-born fast bowler Arshad Iqbal (T20I squad) and 19-year-old fast bowler Mohammad Wasim Jnr from North Waziristan (both T20I and ODI squads). Pacer Shahnawaz Dahani is the only new face in the 20-player Test squad. Two changes have been made in the 20-player Test side that defeated South Africa by seven wickets and 95 runs in Karachi and Rawalpindi, respectively. Kamran Ghulam and Yasir Shah have been replaced by Shahnawaz Dahani and Zahid Mahmood.

Chief selector Muhammad Wasim said, "I want to congratulate Arshad Iqbal, Mohammad Wasim Junior and Shahnawaz Dahani on their selections in the Pakistan squads. This is an acknowledgement and reward for their talent and performances in the 2020-21 domestic season. The South Africa and Zimbabwe tours are extremely important for Pakistan cricket. The seven T20Is are part of our preparation for this year's ICC Men's T20 World Cup, while the South Africa ODIs are part of the Super League as we aim to qualify directly for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023."

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), Saud Shakeel (Sindh), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Usman Qadir (Central Punjab).

Test Squad: Babar Azam (captain) (Central Punjab), Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain) (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Abdullah Shafique (Central Punjab), Abid Ali (Central Punjab), Azhar Ali (Central Punjab), Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab), Fawad Alam (Sindh), Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Imran Butt (Balochistan), Mohammad Nawaz (Northern), Nauman Ali (Northern), Sajid Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Salman Ali Agha (Southern Punjab), Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh), Saud Shakeel (Sindh), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Shahnawaz Dahani (Sindh), Tabish Khan (Sindh) and Zahid Mahmood (Southern Punjab).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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