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Pakistan have been dealt a blow ahead of the upcoming cricket World Cup after their premier fast bowler Naseem Shah was omitted from the squad due to an injury.
Naseem, Pakistan’s talented speedster, picked up a shoulder injury during his team’s Super Four clash with rivals India in the recently concluded Asia Cup. According to media reports, the injury is likely to keep him out of action for several months.
The youngster’s place in Pakistan’s World Cup squad has been taken by Hasan Ali.
“Naseem was injured, he was our main bowler and it was unfortunate,” Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s chief selector, said on Friday, according to ESPNCricinfo.
“If you see how Hasan Ali performed in the Lanka Premier League or other performances, he has performed better than most. He is an experienced bowler who has played big mega events for Pakistan and performed well in them.
“And when Naseem was ruled out, we needed someone who could bowl with the new ball. He bowls well with both old and new ball, and is a team man. His presence lends energy to the team.”
Naseem’s absence will be a big blow to Pakistan, as the 20-year-old boasts an exceptional ODI record, with 32 wickets at an average of 16.96 with two five-fors in the format.
“Unfortunately, the report we have from our doctors, we hear Naseem will be out for a longer time than just the World Cup,” Inzamam added. “At this time, he was the world’s best bowler in my view. It’s a loss for Pakistan and we hope he’s fit soon.”
Pakistan, known for their pace attack, have also included star player Shaheen Shah Afridi as well as Haris Rauf, Mohammed Waseem and Hasan Ali in the squad.
The squad also has spin-bowling all-rounders such as Shadab Khan, Mohammed Nawaz, Salman Agha and Iftikhar Ahmed. Usama Mir is another leg-spin option available.
On the batting front, Pakistan are led by captain Babar Azam, with Fakhar Zaman, Imam-Ul-Haq, Mohammed Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, and Salman Agha supporting the captain. Youngsters Mohammed Haris and middle-order batter Saud Shakeel are also in the mix.
Pakistan, the no. 1 team in ODIs, will enter the World Cup on the back of an underwhelming performance in the Asia Cup where they lost to India and Sri Lanka in the Super Fours and failed to make the final.
Pakistan will begin their World Cup campaign against the Netherlands on October 6 in Hyderabad. Before that, they will play warm-up matches against New Zealand and Australia respectively.
Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992, under the captaincy of Imran Khan, beating England by 22 runs in the final in Melbourne, Australia.
Pakistan squad for the World Cup: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim.