PCB Chief explains why Fakhar Zaman is in the reserves for T20 World Cup
Pakistan named their 15-member squad for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Australia, but explosive left-handed batter Fakhar Zaman only managed to make the reserves group with Shan Masood, another left-handed top-order batter, being called up to the T20I squad for the first time.
Zaman, who as recently as last week, played in the Asia Cup final in Dubai, had suffered an injury to his right knee in the final against Sri Lanka that Pakistan went on to lose.
Pakistan Cricket Board Chief, Muhammad Wasim, identified that as a potential reason for Zaman's absence in the squad for the T20Is against England and subsequently the T20 World Cup.
“Fakhar Zaman has also been rested from the England T20Is so that he can recover from the knee injury he sustained when he landed awkwardly while fielding in the final," Wasim said.
Zaman had only managed 96 runs in six innings at the Asia Cup. This included a half-century against Hong Kong during a group match. In the final against Sri Lanka, the left-hander, now used in the middle-order role, was dismissed for a first-ball duck.
Wasim identified "consistency" as a key feature for selection of the squad for the marquee tournament.
“These players have performed well since November 2021 and that’s why we have won nine out of our last 13 T20Is. We have invested in these cricketers and it is fair to them that they get the opportunity to show their mettle in the World Cup, an event for which they have been preparing and training hard."
Zaman has played 71 T20Is for Pakistan, making 1349 runs at an average of 21.75 and a strike-rate of 129.09 with eight fifties.
An unbeaten 55 against Australia in the semi-final loss to Australia at the last ICC Men's T20 World Cup in UAE is among his last three fifty-plus scores in the format. In 2022, however, Zaman averages 13.71 in seven matches.
Zaman's lack of form and subsequent injury paved way for Masood's inclusion. The left-hander made 547 runs at an average of 45.58 and a strike-rate of nearly 140 in England in the T20 Blast recently.
In PSL 2022, Masood was the third-highest run-scorer with 478 runs. However, Zaman was the leading run-getter in the season with 588 runs.
While Pakistan's top-order has come under fire of late, Wasim backed them to the hilt.
"It is unfair to claim that Pakistan lost matches due to its top order. In fact Pakistan has won majority of its matches due to performance from the top-order. Pakistan has the best opening pair in T20s," he said.
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