London: Shoaib Malik will lead Pakistan during the five-match ODI series against Australia, beginning March 22 as captain Sarfaraz Ahmed is likely to be rested.
Wicket-keeper batsman Umar Akmal may be recalled as selection panel tries to find a replacement for the injured all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, ESPNcricinfo quoted chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, as saying. Inzamam said that these changes would take place to ensure key players do not break down in the run-up to the 50-over World Cup 2019.
“This is my idea [to rest Sarfaraz] and a few others. Our players have been playing for quite long time. I don’t think players should play for that long. So I am resting those who are under a lot of stress from last five months and playing in all three formats,” he said.
“If you enter in any event, I have strong belief that you should go [in] with fresh legs, fresh minds, instead of having injuries like stiff backs, shoulder injury, elbow problem or hamstring injury. I don’t think we should enter into such a big tournament like this. We have to enter in tournament with players who are 100 percent fit and fresh both physically and mentally. Within two months of time, starting from England series, we have to play around 20 to 21 games and it will be a hectic outing to England including practice matches,” Inzamam said.
With Inzamam’s growing concerns over the form of the left-arm quick Mohammad Amir, who picked up only five wickets in 13 ODIs since last January, the chief selector said Amir might not be an automatic selection as he is not looking in his best form.
“He [Amir] has enough time for the World Cup, he will be back in the rhythm. If a senior bowler like him looks out of form, off-colour, it’s a worry for us, but we still have time for Amir. We still have 10 one-dayers and two-three months. Amir can make a comeback. We will give him full chance to make a comeback. He is a big-occasion bowler and we need to have a bowler like him in our armoury,” he said.
Meanwhile, all-rounder Hafeez, who sustained a thumb injury while playing in the PSL last week, is expected to be out for two months, paving way for Akmal to make a comeback.
“I am worried about Hafeez’s injury. Doctors are telling me that it will take eight weeks. For the World Cup team you have been playing for quite some time and there’s not much room to make changes. After Australia series we have England series and then practice matches. We can see if Hafeez gets fit by then,” he said.
“There are few option for us to replace Hafeez though. Umar Akmal is doing well, we have players in middle-order, we have Hussain Talat who went to South Africa. I wish Hafeez gets fit otherwise we have other options. Umar has performed well so far and we will definitely consider him,” Inzamam said.