by: Atika Mehboob TN Sport Pakistan:
Pakistan’s Chief Selector for the men’s team, Wahab Riaz, has unveiled the 17-member squad for the upcoming white-ball tour of New Zealand set to commence on January 12th in Auckland.
While the core team remained intact, a few inclusions and exclusions have sparked discussions among fans and cricket pundits in the country. One notable decision was the selection of Azam Khan over the T20 maestro, Mohammad Haris.
Responding to questions about these choices, Riaz explained that the management aims to invest in skillful players like Azam. However, this investment is contingent upon Azam cooperating with the team.
“We have closely monitored Azam Khan. Sometimes, you have to prioritize skills over fitness. If a player can win you a match, that’s more important than anything else. We’ve had discussions with Azam Khan and conveyed a clear message – we want to invest in him, but he has to respond as well. You can’t expect anyone to lose 10 kg in 10 days, but there is a way to improve fitness. We’ve observed that he’s a high-impact player in the PSL, domestic cricket, and other leagues. We’ve tried many players at number [position], and now we want to give Azam a chance.”
When asked about the exclusion of Mohammad Haris, known for his explosiveness and innovation in T20Is, Wahab explained that the decision was strategic, and the young batter is indeed part of the team’s future plans in the shortest format.
“We have rested Mohammad Haris for this series. We acknowledge his capabilities, and he is part of our plans going forward. There were some standout performers in First-Class cricket domestically whom we wanted to provide an opportunity to, thereby expanding our pool of players. Hence, we rested Haris for this tour.”
After concluding the Australian Red Ball Tour in January, Pakistan will travel to New Zealand for this series, marking the first assignment for Shaheen Afridi as the team’s captain.