LAHORE: The upcoming three-match T20I series against Afghanistan comes with the opportunity for the young and exciting domestic cricketers to prove their mettle at the highest level. Its proximity with the HBL Pakistan Super League 8 will ensure the in-form youngsters enter the series with momentum behind them, and establish themselves as reliable options ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup next year.
Pakistan cricket selectors called up four uncapped players in Ihsanullah, Saim Ayub, Tayyab Tahir and Zaman Khan and recalled Abdullah Shafique, Azam Khan, Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim after a string of impressive performances.
They will, however, be required to push their limits, when faced with the challenges of international cricket. All-rounder Shadab Khan, who has captained Pakistan once before for a three-T20I series against New Zealand in 2020 and will be standing-in for the upcoming series, feels that his side has what it takes to outshine.
“I am grateful to the Almighty for this opportunity. Representing your country is an honour for any cricketer and to lead it is even a bigger honour so I am very excited and eager to take this role. This is a big responsibility as I will be leading a nation of 220 million people and I will try my best to do justice with it with all the ability that I have.
“I want to congratulate all the youngsters who have gotten selected for this series. Whenever you start in any field, you want to go to the highest level and for a cricketer being selected for Pakistan is the best that they can achieve. This is a young unit and youngsters always bring a different spark and energy, and there is no doubt that this series is going to be very exciting.
“Playing for your country demands the best from everyone and that cannot be achieved unless you continue to push your boundaries and challenging yourself. You need a certain level of skillset to thrive at this level. I am very happy to see how these players have been performing in the HBL PSL and what really has struck me is how they are brimming with confidence under high-pressure environment.
“With our top-tier rested for this series, these cricketers will be able to feel the heat and pressure of competing an international side and fully shoulder the responsibility, something that will hold them in good stead as their careers progress. You need to be more courageous and need to have nerves of steel to stand out in international cricket and this tour will help them attain that.
“In Abdullah Shafique and Saim Ayub, we reliable batters who can carry the top-order. While Abdullah has tasted success in Tests, this is a good opportunity for him to thump his authority in T20Is too. Saim is a brilliant mix of your traditional and modern-day batter as his exquisite strokeplay ensures runs at a faster rate. Tayyab Tahir and Azam Khan are solid batters who can turn the game around with their explosive batting, something the two had been demonstrating in domestic and franchise cricket for a while now. Both have been with the side for a series each in the last two years and it is time for them to step up.
“It is very good to have Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf back. Solid all-rounders are gold for any T20 line-up and their presence provides a good balance as both have performed really well with the bat and ball in their respective departments.
“I am very excited to see how Ihsanullah and Zaman Khan step up. The two fast and fearsome pace bowlers bowl above 140kph and hit perfect lengths. You can use such bowlers at any stage of the innings and I am looking forward to making the most of their presence.
“This is going to be a very exciting series and I am eager for it.”
Pakistan will depart for the United Arab Emirates on 22 March to play Afghanistan in three T20Is at Sharjah on 24, 26 and 27. This is the first instance of the two sides meeting in a bilateral series. Pakistan and Afghanistan have played three T20Is and four One-Day Internationals and Pakistan have come out victorious every time.