Afghanistan begin their home season by hosting Pakistan for 3 T20Is in the United Arab Emirates in the first-ever bilateral series between the neighbours. The matches will be played at Sharjah between Friday, March 24 and Monday, March 27 2023.
The series is a quickly put-together replacement for the ODI series against Australia slated for March 2023 that Cricket Australia refused to play in protest at the treatment of women in the war-torn country. Cricket Australia also refused to host Afghanistan in November 2021 for the same reason.
In a surprise move, the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) have recalled 38-year-old veteran all-rounder Mohammad Nabi to a 17-man squad led by Rashid Khan. Nabi last played for Afghanistan in the ODI series against Sri Lanka in November 2023 after stepping down as T20I captain following an unsuccessful T20 World Cup in Australia.
In further surprising selection decisions, opener Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Nijat Masoud, Zahir Khan and Nangyal Karoti have been dropped while uncapped Sediqullah Atal makes the squad.
Rashid Khan (captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Usman Ghani, Sediqullah Atal, Najibullah Zadran, Afsar Zazai, Karim Janat, Mohammad Nabi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Gulbadin Naib, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Noor Ahmad, Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Fareed Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq
All-rounder Shadab Khan will lead a young 15-member Pakistan side made up mainly of standout performers from the recently concluded PSL while seniors like Babar Azam have been rested with an eye on the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024. This includes 4 uncapped players Ihsanullah, Saim Ayub, Tayyab Tahir and Zaman Khan. Those making a comeback after their PSL 8 run include Abdullah Shafique, Azam Khan, Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim.
While Pakistan captain Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi have been rested, Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Mohammad Hasnain and Khushdil Shah have been dropped. This group of 9 players were the bulk of the Pakistan squad that reached the final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia.
Players retained from the last T20I series are Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Naseem Shah and Shan Masood apart from Shadab Khan.
Shadab Khan (captain), Abdullah Shafique, Azam Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Ihsanullah, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shan Masood, Tayyab Tahir, Zaman Khan
Reserve players: Abrar Ahmed, Haseebullah and Usama Mir
Total – 4 | Afghanistan – 0 | Pakistan – 4
1st T20I: Friday, March 24
2nd T20I: Sunday, March 26
3rd T20I: Monday, Mar 27
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
Time: 04:00 PM GMT | 08:00 PM LOCAL | 9:30 PM IST | 9:00 PM PKT