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PCB ‘mulls’ changes in Babar, Rizwan batting order for New Zealand T20 series

Team management and selectors agreed on giving rest to Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, say sources

Pakistan openers Babar Azam (left) and Mohammad Rizwan move forward to hug after a massive innings in T20 World Cup 2021. — ICC
Pakistan openers Babar Azam (left) and Mohammad Rizwan move forward to hug after a massive innings in T20 World Cup 2021. — ICC
  • Saim Ayub likely to play as opener either with Babar or Rizwan.
  • If Babar opens innings, then Rizwan will play one down.
  • Consensus developed in resting star duo in couple of matches.

KARACHI: In a bid to give more chances to younger players ahead of the T20 World Cup 2024, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is mulling changes in the batting order during the New Zealand series, sources told Geo News on Thursday.

They said the team management and selectors have agreed to give chance to Saim Ayub to play as an opener either with Babar Azam or Mohammad Rizwan. 

The insiders added that if Babar opens the innings, then Rizwan will play one down. However, the sources said that if Rizwan opens the innings then Babar will play at number three.

Consensus has also been developed in resting the star duo in a couple of matches of the series, they said.

The sources said there are suggestions to play Fakhar Zaman at number four followed by Iftikhar Ahmed and Azam Khan.

Rizwan will do fielding while Azam Khan will keep the wickets.

The Babar-Rizwan pair has been opening for Pakistan for a long time and has won a number of matches for the country but there were concerns about whether to retain the same order or give a chance to youngsters. 

Keeping in view, the PCB inducted several new players in the squad for the New Zealand series led by new captain Shaheen Afridi.

The 17-member squad also includes youngsters Abbas Afridi, Saim Ayub, Haseebullah Khan and Sahibzada Farhan.

Destructive batter Azam Khan is also part of the squad, along with the likes of Fakhar Zaman, Babar and Rizwan.

The T20 World Cup is scheduled for June next year and all the teams are now gearing up for the ICC tournament which will be played in West Indies and the United States. 

Squad

Shaheen Afridi (c), Aamir Jamal, Abbas Afridi, Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan (wk), Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haseebullah (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mojammad Wasim Jnr, Sahibzada Farhan, Saim Ayub, Usama Mir, Zaman Khan.

Schedule of Pakistan’s 2024 tour to New Zealand

First match: New Zealand vs Pakistan, 12 January, Auckland

Second match: New Zealand vs Pakistan, 14 January, Hamilton

Third match: New Zealand vs Pakistan, 17 January, Dunedin

Fourth match: New Zealand vs Pakistan, 19 January, Christchurch

Fifth match: New Zealand vs Pakistan, 21 January, Christchurch.

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