Faced with a spate of injuries, the Pakistan cricket team is compelled to seek replacements due to Naseem Shah’s shoulder injury, which casts doubt on his participation in the upcoming 2023 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup.
Naseem Shah, the right-arm pacer, sustained a shoulder injury during Pakistan’s match against India in the 2023 Asia Cup.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) issued a statement on Saturday regarding Shah’s condition, stating, “The PCB’s medical team has been closely monitoring Naseem Shah’s shoulder injury, which occurred during the Asia Cup 2023. Consultations with medical experts are ongoing to ensure the best possible care for Naseem.”
“The decision on the fast bowler’s return to cricket will be determined by the PCB medical panel following further assessments,” the statement added.
This injury has raised concerns about the 20-year-old’s availability for the upcoming ICC World Cup 2023.
However, the PCB is facing additional challenges with fast bowlers. Haris Rauf was also sidelined from the same match against India as a precautionary measure due to discomfort in his oblique muscle.
In a separate matter, fast bowler Ihsanullah is currently dealing with an elbow injury and is expected to be unavailable for the next two months. Additionally, Mohammad Hasnain is undergoing rehabilitation for an injury in England.
Zaman Khan, a 22-year-old who made his debut in the Asia Cup 2023 against Sri Lanka, is a potential replacement for Naseem Shah in the 15-man squad. Although he didn’t secure a wicket in his six-over spell, he demonstrated excellent death bowling skills in a crucial last over, where he successfully defended 8 runs. Zaman has limited experience in 50-over cricket, having played only eight List A games and taking six wickets.
Shahnawaz Dahani, a 25-year-old fast bowler, was called up as backup for the Asia Cup but didn’t officially join the squad. He is another strong candidate to replace Naseem, given his ability to bowl at speeds exceeding 140 kph. Dahani has represented Pakistan twice in ODIs, claiming a wicket in his debut against the West Indies in Multan. His List A record is impressive, with 56 wickets in 31 games.
Hassan Ali, aged 29, is also a viable option due to his extensive international experience. He has 91 wickets in 60 ODIs and was named Player of the Tournament in Pakistan’s 2017 Champions Trophy-winning campaign. Additionally, his batting skills set him apart from others.
Despite the available options, Pakistan is likely to feel Naseem Shah’s absence in the upcoming tournament, as he has been a crucial part of the team across formats since his comeback last year.
The ICC World Cup 2023 is scheduled to take place in India, featuring 10 teams competing for the prestigious title at 10 venues from October 5 to November 19. The tournament will follow a round-robin format, with all teams playing against each other in 45 league matches.
The top four teams will advance to the semifinals, which will be held in Mumbai on November 15 and in Kolkata on November 16, with reserve days allocated for these crucial matches.
As per the tournament’s regulations, all teams must finalize their 15-player squads by September 28, with any replacements after this date requiring approval from the ICC.