Dubai : Pakistan will have a host of options to choose from to replace Shaheen Shah Afridi, who was ruled out of the Asia Cup T20 tournament, scheduled to commence in the UAE on August 27, due to a knee injury, with proven performers Hasan Ali and Mir Hamza as the leading contenders.
Pakistan suffered a huge blow on Saturday when Afridi was ruled out of the showpiece continental tournament due to the injury he picked up while fielding during the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.
The tall pacer is expected to return to complete fitness in time for the T20 World Cup in Australia in October.The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) could well recall a proven performer in right-arm pacer Hasan Ali, who was a notable omission when Pakistan’s squad for the Asia Cup was announced.
Ali has been slightly off-colour since last year’s T20 World Cup and the selectors chose to leave him out of their initial Asia Cup plans when selecting their 15-player squad for the six-team tournament. But the 28-year-old is a proven performer at international level and would slot in seamlessly if recalled to the side.
In fact, left-arm pacer Mir Hamza too is a good option to replace Afridi. The 29-year-old has played only once for Pakistan a Test against Australia in Abu Dhabi in 2018 but only recently featured in a warm-up match in Lahore against Babar Azam’s ODI squad that travelled to the Netherlands and is sure to be in the back of selectors’ minds, according to ICC.
Even young express bowler Zaman Khan, who impressed during this year’s edition of the PSL when he took 18 wickets for the Lahore Qalandars, could be on the selectors’ mind. The 20-year-old has already drawn comparisons with Sri Lankan slinger Lasith Malinga.
With spin likely to play a key role on the dry pitches in the UAE, leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood could also be in Pakistan’s scheme of things, given that he is already travelling with Pakistan’s white-ball squad in the Netherlands and could extend his stay during the Asia Cup. Slow left-arm bowler Danish Aziz is another option who could perform well if given the opportunity.
For now, Pakistan have an enviable battery of pace bowlers even without Afridi, with the likes of Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Wasim Jr and Shahnawaz Dahani in the squad.