Fakhar Zaman wins back Pakistan T20I spot

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Legspinner Zahid Mahmood has replaced the injured Shadab Khan

Pakistan have made a late call to include Fakhar Zaman in their squad for the T20I series against South Africa and Zimbabwe. He was earlier overlooked for the format and was meant to return back home following the ODIs, but having struck back-to-back centuries, the opener appears to have made a case that couldn’t be ignored. Also, legspinner Zahid Mahmood, who was originally named in the Test side, will replace the injured Shadab Khan for the Zimbabwe T20 series.

With Zaman coming into the T20I line-up, Pakistan have five top-order options to choose from. They recently welcomed Sharjeel Khan back into the fold for the first time in over four years who will provide competition to Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Haider Ali for the No. 1, 2 and 3 positions. “Both the changes were approved by the national selection committee at the request of the team management,” the PCB said in a statement.

Zaman last played a T20I in November and has had a tough time making it into the Pakistan side to play the shortest format. He was left out of the New Zealand tour after developing Covid-19 symptoms and though subsequent tests cleared him of having the disease, the results didn’t come back in time and the team had already flown out of the country. Zaman didn’t get a look in during the home series against South Africa either, but in light of his recent form, things have changed.

The 193 off 154 balls against South Africa in the second ODI at Wanderers, where he almost single-handedly pulled off a chase of 342 only to fall short thanks to a controversial run-out, had not only bolstered his place on the ICC rankings but convinced the Pakistan selectors that his firepower would be useful for their T20I side. Zaman followed that up with another century – 101 off 104 balls – in the series decider.

Pakistan will play four T20Is against South Africa before moving to Zimbabwe, where they are scheduled to play two Test matches and three T20Is.

T20I squad: Babar Azam (capt), Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Haider Ali, Danish Aziz, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Usman Qadir, Hasan Ali, Arshad Iqbal, Fakhar Zaman, Zahid Mahmood

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