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11 December 2023

Pakistan include leg-spinner Shah in World Cup squad

Pakistani spinner Yasir Shah (centre) bowls during a net practice session at Dubai International Stadium in Dubai on November 16, 2014. (AFP)


Pakistan Wednesday included inexperienced leg-spinner Yasir Shah in their 15-man squad for next month's World Cup, hoping he can fill the gap left by Saeed Ajmal who withdrew due to an illegal bowling action.

Ajmal, who has led Pakistan's attack in all three formats of the game since 2009, was suspended in September because of problems with his action.

He has undergone remedial work but nevertheless withdrew last month from the World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand after he failed completely to conform to regulations.

Pakistan hope all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, who was included in the squad, can pass a test this month on his own bowling action. He was suspended in November.

Under International Cricket Council rules, bowlers are permitted to straighten their bowling arm only by up to 15 degrees.

Shah has played only one one-day international in his career but chief selector Moin Khan gave him a vote of confidence.

"I think Shah will be effective... and we have confidence in him," Khan said.

Misbah-ul Haq will lead the national side for the first time in the World Cup.

Pakistan, placed in Group B, will open their campaign with a highly-charged clash against arch-rivals and defending champions India in Adelaide on February 15.

This will be followed by matches against the West Indies, Zimbabwe, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Ireland.

The top four teams from each of the two groups will qualify for the quarter-finals, leading up to the final in Melbourne on March 29.

Khan said the team was selected after consultation with Misbah and coach Waqar Younis.

"We selected the squad after thorough consultation... and although no one can give assurances of results, we are hopeful that the team will do well," said Khan, a member of Pakistan's only World Cup-winning side in Australia in 1992.

Paceman Sohail Khan was a surprise inclusion after he took ten wickets in three games in  domestic matches in Karachi.

The 30-year-old bowler played the last of his five one-day internationals in Zimbabwe in 2011.

Sohail said he would try to make his mark in the mega event.

"I am happy at my selection after good performances in the domestic matches," Sohail told AFP.

"I will not be in awe of any batsman like (India's Virat) Kohli or anyone but I will be trying to take wickets in the World Cup to help my team."

Pakistan's pace attack will be made up of the lanky Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz and Sohail.

Pacemen Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir and batsmen Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik failed to make the cut due to recent poor form.

Misbah-ul Haq (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz Ahmed, Younis Khan, Haris Sohail, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Ehsan Adil, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz.