Karachi: Middle-order batsmen Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah were picked despite not having “impressive numbers” in Pakistan’s 15-strong squad for next month’s T20 World Cup even as the experienced duo of Fakhar Zaman and wicket-keeper Sarfaraz Ahmed were left out.

The Babar Azam-led squad will also play in upcoming T20Is against New Zealand and England before the World Cup.

The seven home T20Is in Lahore and Rawalpindi will be played from September 25 to October 14 before Pakistan takes on arch-rivals India in their T20 World Cup opener in Dubai on October 24.

Asif played his last T20I against Zimbabwe in April and averages 16.38 in 29 matches with a strike-rate of 123.74, while left-handed batsman Khushdil averages 21.6 in 9 matches. He last played a T20I against South Africa in Lahore.

“Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah may not have impressive numbers against their names but hardly anyone can doubt their tremendous

talent and prowess,” Chief selector Muhammad Wasim said.

“They are the best in the available pool of middle-order batsmen and we remain confident that they will provide us solutions to our middle-order difficulties through solid performances.”

The squad includes five batters (Asif, Babar Azam, Khushdil, Mohammad Hafeez and Sohaib Maqsood), two wicketkeeper-batters (Azam Khan and Mohammad Rizwan), four all-rounders (Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim Jnr and Shadab Khan) and four fast bowlers (Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain and Shaheen Shah Afridi).

Arshad Iqbal, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Sharjeel Khan and Usman Qadir, who were a part of the Pakistan squad for the T20I series in England and West Indies, have been left out.

Zaman, Qadir and Shahnawaz Dahani have been named as travelling reserves. However, Sarfaraz has been completely omitted.

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