Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 July 2019

Pakistan v Australia: Shoaib Malik defends absence of senior players with World Cup looming

Six regulars have been left out of the squad for the five-match series in the UAE, which starts on Friday at Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Shoaib Malik, right, will take on captain duties for Pakistan against Australia in the absence of Sarfraz Ahmed. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Shoaib Malik, right, will take on captain duties for Pakistan against Australia in the absence of Sarfraz Ahmed. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Shoaib Malik, the captain, has defended Pakistan's decision to rest a number of senior players for the one-day international series against Australia in the UAE.

Six regulars have been left out of the squad for the five-match series in the UAE, which starts on Friday at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Malik himself is filling in as captain for Sarfraz Ahmed, who has been given time off, along with Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan and Shaheen Shah Afridi.

The selection has met with some criticism, given the start of the World Cup is now a little over two months away, and the teams are running out of opportunities to fine tune.

However, Malik pointed out that many of the absent players have been on the road since the Asia Cup was played in the UAE in September, and suggested they deserve rest.

“Even though I don’t play Test cricket, I have seen right after the Asia Cup, most of our cricketers play all three formats,” Malik said.

“They started travelling from here to South Africa, after playing Australia and New Zealand [in UAE]. Right after the South African tour, they played [Pakistan Super League].

“Just consider this. They have gone back to meet their families. After six months, you think they don’t need rest? Even our home series, we play here, away from our families.

“I think they deserve a lot of rest. Yes, there are players who need practice, and they are part of the team. But whatever happens happens with the consensus of the players.”

The squad to face Australia includes four uncapped players - Abid Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain and Saad Ali.

Despite their inexperience, as well as the resurgence of the Australian side, evidenced by their comeback win in India earlier this month, Malik is confident.

“If you look at the two squads, Australia are experienced and their morale is high because of what they have done against India in India,” Malik said.

“But I am not one of those who looks for excuses. I think we have enough strength in our dressing room to take on the Australian team.

“Even though my team are quite young, they are high-talented and confident guys.”

Aaron Finch, the Australia captain, said his side’s spirits were raised by the series win in India, especially given the conditions are broadly similar to those faced in the UAE.

“Coming off the tour of India, I think it’s really crucial we managed to play some good cricket there,” Finch said.

“All in all, subcontinent wickets are always quite similar to play on. While they have a lot of experience playing in these conditions in Sharjah, I think it will help us a lot.”

Updated: March 21, 2019 07:32 PM

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