Pakistani left-handed batsman Fakhar Zaman has earned a place in the green shirts’ T20 squad for the series against South Africa, as per a report in The News.
The report states head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and skipper Babar Azam have expressed their confidence in the Pakistani batsman following his stellar knock against South Africa in the second ODI a few days ago.
“The News has learnt that a request to retain him for the T20 series was sent to the selection committee and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) back home considering Fakhar’s form and utility for the T20 series,” reads the report.
Zaman, as per a source, will stay back for the four-match T20 series against South Africa and will also be retained for the Zimbabwe tour.
“Head coach Misbah and captain Babar want to retain him for the seven T20 matches that Pakistan are to play during the African Safari. Following his heroics at the Wanderers that saw Fakhar playing one of the finest innings in the ODI cricket, questions were raised as to why such a powerful hitter was sidelined from the T20 series,” said the source.
“Even Misbah and Babar spoke highly of him and his utility for the forthcoming series that will serve as a stepping stone in team’s preparations for the T20 World Cup,” the source added.
Zaman astounded all when he smashed 10 sixes and 18 fours to South Africa’s pace battery as Pakistan looked to chase the Proteas’ 342-run target. At one point, Pakistan was out of the match before Zaman’s innings breathed life back into the team.
“Besides retaining Fakhar for the seven-match series, both the captain and the head coach are interested in keeping him on top of their priority list for the T20 World Cup to be held in India in October-November,” a team official in South Africa said.
Fakhar took the battle single-handedly to the South Africa bowlers, scoring over 60% of the total runs by Pakistan during the second ODI.
“Even in South Africa, it was surprising for everyone that a batsman like Fakhar was not made part of the team for the T20 series. South Africa coach Mark Boucher and all other South Africa team members even went on to congratulate Fakhar for his outstanding innings,” the official added.
Misbah and Azam are of the view that an aggressive batsman like Zaman will be good for the team in the upcoming T20 series and the World Cup.
“We have received a go-ahead to retain Fakhar for the back-to-back T20 series. His role in the T20 matches will be very important for the team,” said the source.
The official announcement to make Fakhar part of the T20 squad is expected to be made soon.
Meanwhile, injured Shadab Khan who has failed miserably as a bowler and batsman during the ongoing series is expected to return home along with Imam-ul-Haq.
“It would be useless to retain injured player in the team and take him to Zimbabwe knowing that he cannot play anymore during the tour. The decision to send Shadab back home will be made soon,” added the source.