Shadab Khan is set to lead a new-look Pakistan side in the three-match T20I series against Afghanistan, starting 24 March.
Shadab Khan will take over the reins of Pakistan’s T20I side against Afghanistan in the absence of regular captain Babar Azam. Pakistan also decided to rest several key regulars for the series, including Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Rizwan.
Shadab has been the vice-captain of the limited-overs side in the last two years and even stood in for Babar during the T20I series on the tour of New Zealand in 2020.
Speaking on being named the captain for the Afghanistan series, Shadab said: “I am grateful to the Almighty for this opportunity. Representing your country is an honour for any cricketer and to lead it is even a bigger honour so I am very excited and eager to take this role.
“This is a big responsibility as I will be leading a nation of 220 million people and I will try my best to do justice with it with all the ability that I have.
This will be Pakistan’s first T20I assignment since the loss in the T20 World Cup Final against England in November 2022. The series against Afghanistan presents them with the opportunity to bring in fresh faces, with an eye on the T20 World Cup next year in the West Indies and the USA.
Several exciting new talents such as Ihsanullah, Saim Ayub, Tayyab Tahir and Zaman Khan are in line for their T20I debuts after impressing in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) while the likes of Abdullah Shafique, Azam Khan, Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim have earned a recall.
“I want to congratulate all the youngsters who have gotten selected for this series. Whenever you start in any field, you want to go to the highest level and for a cricketer being selected for Pakistan is the best that they can achieve. This is a young unit and youngsters always bring a different spark and energy, and there is no doubt that this series is going to be very exciting.”
Shadab lavished praise on all the youngsters for their exploits in the PSL while also elaborating on what the returning stars will bring to the table for the T20I series.
“In Abdullah Shafique and Saim Ayub, we reliable batters who can carry the top-order. While Abdullah has tasted success in Tests, this is a good opportunity for him to thump his authority in T20Is too. Saim is a brilliant mix of your traditional and modern-day batter as his exquisite strokeplay ensures runs at a faster rate.
“Tayyab Tahir and Azam Khan are solid batters who can turn the game around with their explosive batting, something the two had been demonstrating in domestic and franchise cricket for a while now. Both have been with the side for a series each in the last two years and it is time for them to step up.
“It is very good to have Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf back. Solid all-rounders are gold for any T20 line-up and their presence provides a good balance as both have performed really well with the bat and ball in their respective departments.
“I am very excited to see how Ihsanullah and Zaman Khan step up. The two fast and fearsome pace bowlers bowl above 140kph and hit perfect lengths. You can use such bowlers at any stage of the innings and I am looking forward to making the most of their presence.
“This is going to be a very exciting series and I am eager for it.”
Pakistan will depart for the UAE on 22 March for the series commencing on 24 March in what will be the first multi-game bilateral assignment between the two sides. All three games will be played in Sharjah where Afghanistan will be in the hunt for their first limited-overs victory over Pakistan.