Afridi making rapid progress but Pakistan likely to be edgy till he takes the field in T20 World Cup

Lahore: Pakistan may have included express pace bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi in the 15-man squad for the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia, while also retaining batter Fakhar Zaman among the reserves for the showpiece event next month, but with the duo not completely out of the woods, given that they are still nursing injuries, Babar Azam’s side will likely be edgy till the first match of the mega event is played.

Zaman injured his right knee, landing awkwardly while fielding during the T20 Asia Cup final in Dubai and will fly to London to begin his rehabilitation, an ICC report quoting Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said.

Pakistan lost the final to Sri Lanka with Zaman being bowled for a first-ball duck after hurting his knee in the first innings. The 32-year-old Zaman is one of three travelling reserves in the squad for the T20 World Cup, paying the price for form and fitness concerns.

The former No.2-ranked T20I batter has scored just 96 runs in six innings at the just-concluded Asia Cup, with the bulk of those coming from a half-century against Hong Kong during the group stage.

The batter will also not be a part of the seven-match T20I home series against England, where he would have hoped to stake his claims for a call-up to Pakistan’s final T20 World Cup squad if a spot opens up.

The left-handed batter will instead join Afridi in London, where the star pace bowler is said to be making good progress in his rehabilitation and is on track to recover in time for the T20 World Cup.

Afridi was the key bowler for Pakistan in the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup match against India, where his stunning 3/31 helped the side thrash the arch-rivals by 10 wickets in the UAE. Afridi missed the recently concluded Asia Cup due to a knee injury but the 22-year-old has been named in Pakistan’s T20 World Cup squad, with his addition being crucial to the team’s fortunes in the upcoming tournament.

Pakistan open their T20 World Cup campaign against India on October 23 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

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