Pakistan out of practice for international cricket

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez is unhappy his squad hasn’t played enough recent international cricket ahead of the start of its tour to Sri Lanka next month.

Bangladesh’s proposed tour of Pakistan in April was postponed because of security concerns, meaning the country’s last international match was when it beat Bangladesh in the Asia Cup final in March.

No Pakistani player is taking part in the ongoing Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition in which numerous internationals are competing.

“For the last two months we have not been playing international matches and we are not even practicing Twenty20s,” Hafeez said on Thursday.

Pakistan will play two Twenty20 matches, five one-day internationals and three Tests against Sri Lanka from June 1 to July 12.

Last week, the Pakistan Cricket Board appointed Hafeez as Twenty20 captain while retaining his predecessor Misbah-ul-Haq as skipper for ODIs and tests.

The PCB has planned two Twenty20s and two one-dayers among the Pakistan players next week ahead of squad’s departure to Sri Lanka on May 28.

“I hope these matches will help us to come back into the groove of international cricket,” Hafeez said.

Pakistan cricket selectors have recalled several players, including opening batsmen Ahmed Shehzad and Khalid Latif, fast bowler Mohammad Sami and allrounder Shoaib Malik.

“Unfortunately after one or two bad performances we start thinking that a certain player does not deserve a place in the team,” Hafeez said.

Sami and Shehzad were impressive in the recent Bangladesh Premier League, while Malik led Sialkot Stallions to victory in the domestic Pakistan Twenty20 competition. Latif has also scored consistently in tournaments at home in the past two years.

Pakistan is also scheduled to play two Twenty20 games against Australia after the tour of Sri Lanka before competing in the World Twenty20 in September, also in Sri Lanka.

Hafeez believes five matches are enough for the selectors to judge the performances of the players before picking the squad for the World Twenty20.

“I don’t want make any predictions because there’s a chance for everyone to do well,” Hafeez said of the World Twenty20 squad.

Pakistan received a minor setback when Hafeez’s opening partner, Nasir Jamshed, was ruled out of the series against Sri Lanka on Wednesday because of a fractured finger.

Both batsmen had given their team several solid opening stands in the Asia Cup.

“I think he (Jamshed) was in very good form in the Asia Cup,” Hafeez said. “I hope he recovers quickly.”

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