Pakistan selectors Monday announced a 15-man squad for next month’s Twenty20 World Cup but resisted calls to include veteran allrounder Shoaib Malik despite the team struggling with middle-order batting for two years.

Since Misbah-ul-Haq took over as head coach in September 2019, Pakistan have tried 17 different players in the middle order but none of them succeeded.

That raised calls for the inclusion of 39-year-old Malik, who played the last of his 116 Twenty20 internationals in June 2020, but chief selector Mohammad Wasim said specialists were preferred.

“We have focused on specialist T20 players and have considered the situation of the venues and our oppositions in the event,” Wasim said at a press conference in Lahore.

Pakistan are in Group 2 alongside arch-rivals India, New Zealand, Afghanistan and two qualifier teams to be decided after the first round.

Group 1 comprises defending champions the West Indies, Australia, England, South Africa and two qualifiers.

Pakistan will open their campaign with a high-voltage match against India in Dubai on October 24.

The seventh event of the Twenty20 World Cup will be held in the United Arab Emirates from October 17 to November 14.

Former captain and wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed, allrounder Faheem Ashraf, opener Sharjeel Khan also failed to make the cut but 40-year-old veteran Mohammad Hafeez was included.

Another opener Fakhar Zaman was included in the three reserves who will travel with the squad. They also include pacer Shahnawaz Dahani and Usman Qadir.

Misfiring power-hitters Asif Ali and Azam Khan were lucky to be included in the squad. Ali managed just two double figure scores in the last 10 Twenty20 internationals.

Twenty-year-old fast bowler Mohammad Wasim was also included, having impressed in the four Twenty20 internationals he has played so far.

Babar Azam will skipper the squad.

The squad will also feature in the five Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand later this month and in the two T20Is against England on October 14 and 15 before the World Cup.

Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Azam Khan, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohaib Maqsood

Reserves: Fakhar Zaman, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir