Pakistan announced its 15-man squad for next month’s World Cup on Tuesday, adding inexperienced leg-spinner Yasir Shah to the mix in hopes that he will fill the gap left by Saeed Ajmal, who withdrew due to an illegal bowling action.
Ajmal, who has led Pakistan’s attack in all three formats of the game since 2009, was suspended in September because of problems with his action. He has undergone remedial work but nevertheless withdrew last month from the World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand after he failed to completely alter his action to conform to regulations.
Pakistan is hoping all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, who was included in the squad, clears his own bowling action test this month after he was suspended in November, also for an illegal action. Under International Cricket Council (ICC) rules, bowlers are permitted to straighten their bowling arm by up to 15 degrees, which has been established as the point at which any straightening will become visible to the naked eye.
Chief selector Moin Khan said Shah, who has played only one one-day international in his career, would be productive. “I think Shah will be effective … and we have confidence in him,” Khan said.
Misbah-ul-Haq will lead the national side for the first time in the World Cup.
Pakistan, placed in Group B, will open its campaign with a highly charged clash against defending champions India in Adelaide on Feb. 15 followed by matches against the West Indies, Zimbabwe, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Ireland.
The top four teams from each of the two groups will qualify for the quarter finals, leading up to the final in Melbourne on March 29.
Khan said the team was selected after consultation with Haq and coach Waqar Younis. “We selected the squad after thorough consultation … and although no one can give assurances of results, we are hopeful that the team will do well,” said Khan, a member of Pakistan’s only World Cup winning side in Australia in 1992.
Paceman Sohail Khan was a surprise inclusion after he took ten wickets in three games in a domestic match in Karachi. The 30-year-old bowler played the last of his five one-day internationals in Zimbabwe in 2011.
Pakistan’s pace attack will comprise of Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz and Sohail. Pacemen Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir and batsmen Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik failed to make the cut over recent poor form.
Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz Ahmed, Younis Khan, Haris Sohail, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Ehsan Adil, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz.