The National Junior Selection Committee has named an experienced 15-player Pakistan squad for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020, which will be held in South Africa from 17 January to 9 February.
In-form wicketkeeper-batsman Rohail Nazir has been retained as captain, while prolific opener Haider Ali has been appointed as vice-captain.
Pakistan, the 2004 and 2006 champions and three-time runners-up, are placed in Group C of the 16-team event and will play Scotland in their opening match on 19 January in Potchefstroom.
Pakistan’s second match will be against Zimbabwe at the Witrand Oval in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, 22 January, while their third and final group match will be on 24 January at the JP Marks Oval against Bangladesh.
The top two teams from each of the four groups will advance to the Super League, while the remaining teams will feature in the Plate Championship. The Super League stage will commence from Tuesday, 28 January and the top four sides will qualify for the semi-finals, with the winners competing for the title on Sunday, 9 February, in Benoni.
Squad (players born on or after 1 September 2000 were eligible for selection):
Openers – Abdul Wahid Bangalzai (Quetta), Haider Ali (Rawalpindi), Mohammad Shehzad (Multan)
Middle-order batsmen – Mohammad Haris (Peshawar), Mohammad Huraira (Sialkot) and Mohammad Irfan Khan (Lahore)
Wicketkeeper – Rohail Nazir (captain)
All-rounders – Abbas Afridi (Peshawar), Fahad Munir (Lahore) and Qasim Akram (Faisalabad)
Spinners – Amir Ali (Larkana) and Arish Ali Khan (Karachi)
Fast bowlers – Amir Khan (Peshawar), Naseem Shah (Lahore) and Tahir Hussain (Multan)
Team management – Ijaz Ahmed (head coach-cum-manager), Rao Iftikhar Anjum (bowling coach), Abdul Majeed (assistant coach), Saboor Ahmad (trainer), Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rasul (physiotherapist), Usman Hashmi (analyst), Emmad Ahmed Hameed (media manager) and Col (retd) Usman Riffat Ansari (security manager).
Saleem Jaffar, chair of the junior selection committee, said: “I want to congratulate all the players on their selection in the Pakistan squad for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020.
“I know some of the players will be disappointed at not being picked, but it was a tough task as we had a pool of some very exciting and exceptionally talented players to choose from. I would encourage all the players who have missed out on selection to remain positive and motivated as I am confident there will be opportunities for them down the road.
“Criteria for selection was current performances and meritocracy, and I am pleased it was a consensus decision. These players have been performing up to our expectations and I am hopeful they will carry their good form into the series and produce solid performances.
“Barring Aamir Khan, Arish Ali Khan and Mohammad Huraira, all others have represented Pakistan in international junior series this year. However, the three boys made our task easier by consistently producing impressive performances in the domestic season.”
Three players – Ammad Butt Jnr, Akhtar Shah and Saim Ayub – were not considered for selection due to injuries.
The Pakistan cricket team can make changes to their combination until 10 January 2020 without needing an ICC approval. After 11 January, players can be replaced on fitness grounds and will require the approval of the ICC’s Event Technical Committee.
About the players (in alphabetical order):
Rohail Nazir (captain) – This will be his second ICC U19 Cricket World Cup. After scoring a century on his first-class debut last year, he was appointed U19 captain last year for the ACC U19 Asia Cup. He was one of the most impressive players in the bilateral series against Sri Lanka and South Africa, and then carried his form into the ACC Emerging Cup. In five first-class matches this year, he has scored 170 runs.
Haider Ali (vice-captain) – Scored 317 runs in Pakistan’s 7-0 win over South Africa in June/June and then followed up with 214 runs in Pakistan’s 3-2 series win over Sri Lanka. In last month’s ACC Emerging Cup, he scored 218 runs in five matches. In six first-class matches this year, he has scored 503 runs.
Aamir Khan – The 18-year-old took 18 wickets in five matches in the PCB U19 three-day tournament after bagging one wicket in two PCB U19 one-day tournament. In the three-day Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, he took five wickets in three matches.
Abbas Afridi – Took 17 wickets and scored 129 runs in 13 matches in Sri Lanka, South Africa and in the Asia Cup. Didn’t play in this year’s PCB U19 events after having already competed in three previous U19 events
Abdul Wahid Bangalzai – The 17-year-old was the fifth leading run-getter in the PCB U19 One-Day Tournament with 246 runs, while in the three-day competition with 276 runs. He also played in the ACC U19 Asia Cup.
Amir Ali – The 18-year-old left-arm spinner made his first-class debut this season and took one wicket. Prior to that, he toured South Africa and returned as the most successful bowler with 13 wickets. In the ACC Asia Cup, he took four wickets in three matches, while he picked up seven and 28 wickets, respectively in the PCB U19 One-Day and Three-Day competition, respectively.
Arish Ali Khan – The left-arm spinner was the leading wicket-taker with in the PCB U19 One-Day Tournament with 15 wickets, while in the three-day tournament, he was the second leading wicket-taker with 30 wickets. He has been selected for the first time in the Pakistan U19 squad.
Fahad Munir – 17-year-old all-rounder scored 170 runs and took five wickets in the tour to South Africa, while he scored 50 runs and took three wickets in the ACC U19 Asia Cup. Didn’t play in this year’s PCB U19 events after having already competed in three previous U19 events
Mohammad Haris – The 19-year-old middle-order batsman from Peshawar toured South Africa and also featured in the ACC Asia Cup, scoring 275 runs in seven matches and 96 runs in three matches, respectively. In the recently-concluded three-day Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, he scored 31 runs in three matches. Didn’t play in this year’s PCB U19 events after having already competed in three previous U19 events
Mohammad Huraira – The 18-year-old right-handed batsman was the top-scorer in the PCB U19 One-Day Tournament with 342 runs and then followed up with 358 runs in the three-day event –third most in the event.
Mohammad Irfan Khan – Scored 83 runs in the ACC U19 Asia Cup, third most by a Pakistan batsman. Prior to that, he had scored 208 runs in South Africa, while he scored 475 runs in 10 three-day Quaid-e-Azam Trophy matches. Didn’t play in this year’s PCB U19 events after having already competed in three previous U19 events
Mohammad Shehzad – The 16-year-old opener played in away and home series against Bangladesh U16. In the away series, he scored 26 runs in three 50-over matches, while in the home series, he scored 72 runs in two 50-over matches. In the ongoing PCB U16 three-day tournament, he has scored 175 runs in two matches at an average of 67. He has also taken six wickets.
Naseem Shah – Made his Test debut against Australia in Brisbane. He took four wickets in the Asia Cup, 12 wickets in South Africa and 18 wickets in four Quaid-e-Azam Trophy first-class matches this season.
Tahir Hussain – The left-arm fast bowler took six wickets in four PCB U19 One-Day Tournament, while in three matches of PCB U19 three-day event, he bagged three wickets.
Qasim Akram – The 17-year-old all-rounder scored 296 runs and took three wickets, and scored 260 runs and took 15 wickets in the PCB U19 One-Day and Three-Day Tournaments, respectively. In the Asia Cup, he scored 30 runs and claimed four wickets, while he scored 77 runs and 124 runs in South Africa and Sri Lanka, respectively.