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Men's ODI WC: Inzamam-ul-Haq reveals reasoning behind Pakistan's World Cup squad selection

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New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) Pakistan's chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq while explaining the reasoning behind some of the picks for Pakistan 15-member squad for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup backs Hasan Ali's performance in global events and emphasised his ability to with a new ball.

The squad mostly stuck to familiar faces, with the core group of players that have regularly featured over the last couple of years picked once again. However, Pakistan had to make a crucial change in their lineup.

Young pace sensation Naseem Shah sustained an injury during Asia Cup Super Four encounter against India, and will miss plenty of action in the upcoming months. The experienced Hasan Ali was therefore drafted in as his replacement.

“Firstly, the way Naseem Shah got injured, he was our main bowler (expected to be in the squad),” Inzamam was quoted by ICC website. "Secondly, there are a number of injury issues among fast bowlers. Like there was (Mohammed) Hasnain, he’s had an injury and has been operated by doctors. Ihsanullah just had an elbow operation. Our options in fast bowling are depleted."

While Naseem’s loss is a big one, given his exemplary ODI record of 32 wickets at an average of 16.96 and two five-fors, the team will hope that Hasan’s experience makes up for it. Hasan Ali has featured in 60 ODIs, claiming 91 wickets at an average of 30.36

The chief selector seemed highly impressed with Hasan’s performance in big tournaments and was confident of his ability to fill Naseem’s shoes.

“And talking about Hasan Ali, you look at his performances in the Lankan Premier League and at other places. He’s performed well and is an experienced bowler. He might not have featured in international cricket of late, but he has played mega events for Pakistan and he has performed for us," Inzamam said.

"And we needed a new-ball bowler after it was clear that Naseem wouldn’t play the World Cup, so Hasan Ali is a brilliant choice for that. He does well with the new ball, and old ball and also has experience. He’s a team man as well, and brings energy into our side," he added.

Pakistan's middle-over performance, both in bowling and batting, has been a concern. In the Asia Cup, spinners like Shadab Khan and Mohammed Nawaz struggled to maintain early-over pressure.

“With Shadab and Nawaz, we have tried to keep the continuity going. We haven’t tried to bring about many changes. In the World Cup squad, you bring in players you’ve prepared over a period of time. You make your (team) plans, about six months or a year before the event. That’s how you make a team.

“Shadab and Nawaz have played ODIs with us over the last two years. It is true that they didn’t perform well [in the Asia Cup]. Our troubles centre around the fact that we don’t pick wickets in the middle overs.

"It is true that Shadab and Nawaz haven’t performed as per their calibre, but we have full confidence in them. They’ve played with us for a long time, and have performed well. And this is a big event, and we hope that they’ll perform better. Otherwise, we have Usama Mir as an option as well," he said.

Pakistan will play two warm-up fixtures before the event, against New Zealand and Australia respectively. They begin their World Cup campaign against the Netherlands at Hyderabad on 6 October.

Pakistan squad for the 2023 World Cup: Babar Azam (c), 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

--IANS hs/bc

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