Pakistan Pick Mohammad Amir, Asif Ali Wahab Riaz For The World Cup > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Pakistan pick Mohammad Amir, Asif Ali and Wahab Riaz for World cup

Mohammad Amir was not picked initially in the provisional squad for the World Cup.

Pakistan have sprung a surprise by bringing back pacers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz to the ODI fold for the World Cup as they announced their final 15-man squad on Monday (May 20). Both Amir and Wahab did not initially feature in the provisional squad. Apart from the two seamers, batsman Asif Ali has also been included on expected lines in order to provide firepower in the middle order. Abid Ali, Junaid Khan and Faheem Ashraf, who were named in the initial squad, will make way for the trio.

Squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Hasnain

Amir and Wahab were not named in Pakistan's provisional squad and the latter was not even in the 17-member group, named for the limited-overs series against England, from which the World Cup squad had to be churned out. In fact, Wahab last turned out for Pakistan in ODIs almost two years ago in their Champions Trophy opener against India, which Pakistan lost by 124 runs (D/L method), in which he conceded 87 runs in 8.4 overs before he injured his ankle. He last played for Pakistan in October last year in a Test against Australia.

The decision to call back the 33-year-old has been taken because of his ability to reverse the ball at a daunting pace. "The rationale behind bringing him [Wahab Riaz] back is his ability to reverse swing the ball," said Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan's chief selector, at a media briefing at PCB's headquarter in Lahore. "Nobody expected the pitches in the UK to be flat even in the early season there (during the recent ODI series against England). So we have realised that and reviewed our selection."

"The lack of potency of our frontline bowlers in the recent ODI series against England meant that a change was needed. In addition, we now know that we will encounter batting wickets throughout the World Cup campaign. The combination of both these elements, meant that we believed that right now, utilising the World Cup experience and knowledge of Wahab was the correct choice.

"The bowling unit during the England ODIs has not clicked as anticipated or expected; if we have at our disposal two vastly experienced pace duo of Amir and Wahab, then it will be foolish not to include them."

Over the years, Wahab has provided fierceness to the Pakistan pace attack, but his numbers in England portray facing his bowling to be an innocuous proposition. With only four wickets in seven matches, the left-armer averages 96.25 and has a strike rate of 86.5 - both are his worst in any country. His economy of 6.67 in England is the second worst behind 7.28 in South Africa.

"We need to have bowlers who are good with the old ball and can defy the conditions and also have experience under their belt. Wahab has played in Tests recently and he was dropped on the basis of his form. But he did well in domestic cricket. Bringing him in doesn't reflect any panic, but it's a decision purely based on the requirement.

"He has been training and playing club cricket, and the player of his calibre will not face much problem in adapting and adjusting to the gruelling demands of the World Cup," Inzamam said. "In addition, playing in the World Cup warm up matches, bowling his quota, will have him match-ready."

Pakistan were expected to falter in their batting department before their departure for England but it has been their bowling which has put the team down, something their head coach, Mickey Arthur, also pinpointed after England completed a 4-0 win over Pakistan at Leeds on Sunday. The lack of bite in the bowling especially put Faheem (one wicket in 19 overs across three matches) and Junaid (two wickets in as many matches in 18 overs) under the scanner.

"Junaid and Faheem had been originally preferred over a few other bowlers based on their recent performances and the investment we had made on them since 2017. They had the opportunity to cement their Word Cup spots, but they were well below-par in the series against England even though they were up against the difficult challenge of bowling on placid and batsmen-friendly wickets."

Amir goes into the World Cup solely on the basis on his reputation of being a 'big-match bowler' as a bout of chickenpox kept him from playing in the series against England. Arthur revealed that the pacer has begun training over the weekend and will be ready to go by Pakistan's first warm-up on March 24.

"We think players like Amir and Wahab are more suitable for these conditions, which is why we have preferred them," Inzamam said. "Dropping Junaid and Faheem doesn't mean that the two are bad bowlers. If you analyse the series, if the Pakistan bowlers were punished, so were the England bowlers. So whatever the conditions, we need experienced bowlers, and Amir is very much ahead of every bowler we have. He was originally never discarded either, but we kept him with the team for the England series."

Originally taken to England to audition for a World Cup berth, Asif Ali made a case for himself with two back to back fifties at Southampton and Bristol at the rates of 141 and 121 respectively. As Pakistan are in a dire need of a power-hitter in their lineup, the 27-year-old was expected to make the final cut.

"We needed a power-hitter at number 6 or 7 and Asif has done very well for us in this England series so we need him," Inzamam pointed out.

The hard-hitting batsman lost his 19-month-old daughter to cancer on Sunday in the USA and was subsequently released from the squad to be with his family.

"He is scheduled to be back in time for our warm-up games where we intend to play our full-strength XI, but if he cannot make it back in time for those, we will wait for him whenever he does return."

In order to accomodate Asif, the selectors had to drop Abid Ali, who they had named as a third opener in the provisional World Cup squad, after he made 5 at Leeds in the last ODI, his sole outing in the series. In case, either of Imam ul Haq or Fakhar Zaman get unavailable during the World Cup, Mohammad Hafeez or Haris Sohail could be promoted up the order, reckoned Inzamam.

"It has not been an easy decision to leave out Abid, particularly after he got only one opportunity on the tour. But, he was our third choice opener. After both the first choice openers struck early form, we preferred Asif Ali as he brings firepower to the team that can strengthen our chances in the tournament.

"Both our openers are in form and average over 50 each. If required, we have a fully fit Mohammad Hafeez who can be promoted in the batting order, while Haris Sohail can be the other option."

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