Pakistan’s performances in the recently concluded ODI series against England have resulted in some changes to their bowling arsenal for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz have been included in the 15-man squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 for Pakistan while Faheem Ashraf and Junaid Khan have been axed. Abid Ali has been culled from the squad while Asif Ali, who scored two fifties in the series against England but returned back to Pakistan following the death of his two-year-old daughter due to cancer, has been included in the side.
Speaking about the selection, chairman of selectors Inzamam-ul-Haq said Wahab’s ability to generate reverse swing aided his selection. "Wahab's ability to reverse swing the ball got him selected. Nobody expected the pitches in the UK will play flat even in the early season there (during the recent ODI series against England). So we have realised that and reviewed our selection,” Inzamam said. When it came to Amir, Inzamam said, "As far as Amir is concerned, we never discarded him. We now want to take a bowler who brings a bit of experience and the previous knowledge of having bowled in English conditions."
The inclusion of Wahab is interesting considering his history with the current Pakistan cricket team coach Mickey Arthur. The left-arm pacer has not played an ODI for Pakistan in the last two years and in 2018, Arthur’s ‘not won a game for two years’ remark on Wahab potentially signalled the end of his playing days for Pakistan.
“I am changing the culture in this Pakistan environment and I am not interested in players doing just the bare minimum. I want players winning us games of cricket and pushing themselves to be the best they can be. This is a high-performance environment, not an environment where mediocrity is accepted. Unless you are winning games consistently, you are under pressure for your position,” Arthur explained the omission of Riaz.
Pakistan will start their ICC Cricket World Cup campaign against West Indies on May 31 in Bristol.
Final Pakistan squad for World Cup
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