Pakistan dropped out-of-form fast bowler Mohammad Amir and included 18-year-old paceman Mohammad Hasnain in its 15-member World Cup squad on Thursday.
Amir’s exclusion came after the left-armer took only five wickets in 14 ODIs since Pakistan won the Champions Trophy in 2017.
“Amir is the most experienced bowler but his performance was not good enough since the Champions Trophy,” chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said. “Hasnain will be a surprise package as he bowls at a speed of 150 (kph) and could win a match for Pakistan on his own. With such an express pace he could put a dent on any team.”
Hasnain made his ODI debut against Australia in the United Arab Emirates last month, and took two wickets in three matches.
Opening batsman Abid Ali, who scored a century in his ODI debut against Australia, was also selected, along with the regular opening pair of Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq.
Inzamam said Amir and hard-hitting batsman Mohammad Asif will travel with the squad next week to England, where Pakistan will play a Twenty20 international and a five-match ODI series ahead of the World Cup.
“These two (Amir and Asif) will provide cover to the World Cup squad and can be drafted into the side by May 23, if required,” Inzamam said.
The squad included 11 players who won the Champions Trophy in England by defeating India in the final.
Inzamam conceded that the selectors have compromised on fitness of some of the players like Imad and Hafeez, but since these players were part of the team over the last two years, both were picked.
Hafeez had been recovering from the hand injury he sustained during the Pakistan Super League match in the United Arab Emirates while Imad has a troublesome knee.
“I acknowledge we gave favour to Imad despite the fact that he couldn’t get the required points in the fitness test,” Inzamam said. “Hafeez will go through the fitness test once he recovers from the hand injury, but overall I think fitness of our players have improved a lot.”
Surprisingly, selectors have ignored Mohammad Rizwan after the wicketkeeper-batsman scored two centuries against Australia in the UAE.
Pakistan’s middle order batting will revolve around Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Shaib Malik, Hafeez and captain Safaraz Ahmed, with the likes of all-rounders Wasim and Faheem Ashraf batting lower down the order.
Shadab Khan is the sole leg-spinner in the side with Wasim bowling left-arm spin and Malik could be utilized as an off spinner, too.
Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Junaid Khan and Hasnain are the four specialist fast bowlers.
“We’ve tried to cover all the bases by assessing our strengths as well as analyzing each opponent, the match venues and the event format,” Inzamam said.
Pakistan will open its World Cup campaign against the West Indies at Trent Bridge on May 31.