Colombo: Pakistan’s captain, Babar Azam, has raised concerns about the possibility of fast bowler Naseem Shah’s timely recovery for their initial matches in the upcoming World Cup in India. However, there’s better news regarding their star pacer Haris Rauf, who is “recovering well” from a side strain and is expected to be fit for their opening match against the Netherlands in Hyderabad on October 6.
Both Naseem and Haris sustained injuries during Pakistan’s Super Four clash against India in the Asia Cup and were sidelined as the team exited the tournament following a loss to Sri Lanka in Colombo.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has not yet provided an official timeline for Naseem’s recovery from a right shoulder injury. In light of this uncertainty, Babar Azam expressed doubts about Naseem’s fitness for the start of the World Cup.
While addressing the situation, Babar Azam mentioned, “I’ll tell you later… Not revealing our Plan B at this moment. But, yes, Haris Rauf is making good progress. He’s dealing with a minor side strain, and he’s expected to recover before the World Cup.”
Regarding Naseem Shah’s condition, Babar added, “Naseem Shah also… they have a couple of mismatches, I don’t know how long the recovery will take, but in my opinion, Naseem Shah will also be available for the World Cup later on. But let’s see.”
Naseem Shah, who is just 20 years old, has had a history of injuries, including a back problem at the age of 17 that sidelined him for 14 months. After his return, he suffered a shoulder injury during his debut appearance in the County Championship with Gloucestershire, keeping him out of action for an additional month. Although initially known as a red-ball specialist, he has evolved into a key bowler for Pakistan in all three formats of the game.
In ODIs, Naseem has emerged as Pakistan’s most potent bowler, claiming 32 wickets in just 14 matches, all at an average of less than 17.
Teams have until September 28 to submit their squads to the ICC for the six-week tournament, and they can only make changes to their 15-player squads after that date with the permission of the event organizers. Pakistan doesn’t have any official 50-over matches scheduled before the World Cup, but they do have two warm-up games against New Zealand (on September 29) and Australia (on October 3), although these games do not hold official ODI status.
(With Inputs From PTI)