Sharjeel Khan and Mohammad Sami were brought in for Pakistan for the upcoming Asia Cup and World T20, after Babar Azam and Rumman Raaes sustained injuries in the Pakistan Super League. Sharjeel and Sami have been impressive in the PSL, and as a result the Pakistan Cricket Board did not have much hesitation in opting for the duo as replacements.
Azam and Raees was unfortunate to miss out on the Asia Cup. Azam suffered a fracture on his left forearm during a training session in the PSL while Raaes suffered a hamstring injury.
Apart from the duo, another strong performer in the PSL, Khalid Latif, who will replace Iftikhar Ahmed, has also been included in the World T20 squad, which is set to begin from March 8. Sharjeel, Sami and Latif have been key performers for Islamabad United in the PSL.
Sharjeel last played for the Pakistan T20 team in Dec. 2013, while Sami featured in May 2015. Latif last represented Pakistan in the shortest format in June 2012.
The 26-year-old is the third highest runscorer in the PSL with 287 runs, while Sami has taken 11 wickets in the competition. Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi and coach Waqar Younis would be happy to see the selectors to pick these players after their recent performances.
Sharjeel scored an impressive century – 117 runs from 62 balls -- to help Islamabad seal a final berth in the PSL. With it, Sharjeel also became the first player to score a century in the PSL. Sami was instrumental in Islamabad United's win over Karachi Kings in the second qualifier, taking five wickets for eight runs.
"After having looked at the performance of the players in the PSL, the selection committee along with captain Shahid Afridi and head coach Waqar Younis decided to include Sharjeel Khan and Mohammad Sami as replacements for injured Babar Azam and Ruman Raees respectively for both Asia Cup and World Cup," Pakistan chief selector Haroon Rasheed was quoted by DAWN as saying.
The in-form Sami's inclusion will bolster Pakistan's fast bowling lineup, which already includes Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir. Sharjeel's inclusion in the batting lineup will give Afridi more options at the top of the order.
Pakistan cricket fans will expect Sharjeel and Sami to replicate their PSL form, and help the Men in Green challenge for the Asia Cup and the World T20 title, while Latif will be expected to do the same in the latter tournament.
Though Pakistan's focus will primarily lie on the Asia Cup at present, Latif is expected to play an important role with the bat in the World T20 in India. The right-hander is a hard hitter of a cricket ball as has been witnessed in the PSL. Latif has scored 190 runs in six PSL innings, which included nine sixes
The PCB included Latif as they lack a quality striker of a cricket ball in the middle overs. The selectors could not include him in the Asia Cup due to technical reasons.
"Since we have options available to bring in changes in our World T20 squad before the support period starting from March 8, 2016, it has also been decided to use this option and include Khalid Latif, who showed tremendous display of power-hitting in the PSL matches," Rasheed said.
"Khalid Latif could not be made part of the Asia Cup squad due to some technical reasons but would join the squad for the World Cup."
Updated Pakistan squad for Asia Cup and World T20
Shahid Afridi (C), Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Sharjeel Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed (only Asia Cup), Khalid Latif (only World T20), Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Khurram Manzoor, Mohammad Sami.