The 4-0 drubbing against hosts England in the just concluded one-day international series has resulted in Pakistan selectors making three changes to the provisional 15-member World Cup squad including the recall of left-arm speedster Wahab Riaz, almost two years after he played his last ODI.
The 33-year-old, known for his fiery spell to Shane Watson in the 2015 World Cup and has taken 102 ODI wickets for Pakistan in 79 matches, played his last ODI against India in the ICC Champions Trophy in June 2017.
Pakistan bowlers conceded over 340 runs in all the four completed matches and it was felt that the selectors would have to take some drastic measures ahead of the quadrennial event.
“We thought that during the England series we lacked experience in our bowling and that is why we have included Riaz in the squad,” Pakistan chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said on Monday.
Other changes in the squad include the return of Mohammad Amir, who has recovered from chicken pox, and middle-order batsman Asif Ali in place of Abid Ali.
Left-arm pacer Junaid Khan and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf have made way for the two experienced fast bowlers.
For Junaid the news was particularly galling after he had already been shut out of playing in a World Cup twice: though he made the squad in 2011 he did not play, and he had to withdraw in 2015 due to injury.
Asif, whose 18-month-old daughter Noor Fatima died over the weekend due to cancer, will join the World Cup squad after her funeral in Lahore.
“We are with Asif in this tough time. He will return to Pakistan and then go back before the warm-up matches,” Inzamam said.
Leg spinner Shadab Khan, however, has retained his place in the squad after recovering from a viral infection that kept him away from the England series.
Final Squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt,wk), Asif Ali, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnanin, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz
(With AFP inputs)