NewsRevealed: Why Pakistan Are Not Selecting Mohammad Haris

Revealed: Why Pakistan Are Not Selecting Mohammad Haris

It was a cameo that still holds a special place in the hearts of the young cricket fans. Go to X and give your feed a scroll, and you will come across the fan edits of Mohammad Haris dispatching Kagiso Rabada over midwicket and fine leg. You will see him shuffle his feet adroitly and scoop Anrich Nortje. There will be some more in which you will see Shaheen Afridi, the most feared bowler in the PSL, getting the same treatment with the ball flying around Gaddafi Stadium.

That innings against South Africa rescued Pakistan’s T20 World Cup campaign. Pakistan, after a shocking defeat to Zimbabwe, found themselves on the brink of a group-stage exit. But Haris’ epic 11-ball 28 at number three provided an impetus that Pakistan had lacked throughout that tournament. Breezy fifties from Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan propelled Pakistan to 185. South Africa could only muster 108 in 14 overs in response as Pakistan won the rain-reduced contest by a solid 33-run margin.

Haris then made an 18-ball 31 against Bangladesh, this time at four, and 26-ball 30 in the semi-final against New Zealand, back at number three, on Pakistan’s road to the final. That World Cup announced Haris on the world stage. Pakistan unearthed an attacking top-order batter in Haris, who had come into the side as Fakhar Zaman’s replacement, who could pulverize pacers without the fear of losing his wicket.

Many hoped that he could solve Pakistan’s problems around their sluggish scoring rates in the powerplays, but Haris played only four more games after the World Cup and has been frozen out of the last three T20I squads altogether.

When Pakistan announced the squad for their first T20I assignment of the year, then chief selector Wahab Riaz told the media that the wicketkeeper-batter was merely rested as the selectors wanted to give the domestic performers a go in their bid to increase the player pool in the World Cup year.

Then, he was not among the 22 names for the home T20Is against New Zealand. When Azam Khan sustained a calf injury, the selectors replaced him with Haseebullah, who was selected ahead of Haris at the start of the year, and did not take a replacement for Mohammad Rizwan for the last two games; perhaps they ran out of suitable options.

When, earlier in the week, Pakistan named an 18-man squad for the Ireland and England series in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup, Haris, once again, was ignored.

Grassroots Cricket spoke to multiple sources with knowledge of the subject, and they revealed that the wicketkeeper-batter did not fit into the team management’s plans currently. The top order is already congested with Babar Azam, Saim Ayub, Mohammad Rizwan, and Usman Khan in the mix, and in the middle order, where Haris has played in the middle order in domestic and U19 cricket, Azam’s firepower and perceived ability to deal with spin better makes him a more attractive prospect to the team management.

What further weakens Haris’ case is his returns in the recent PSL. The wicketkeeper-batter made only 142 runs at 15.77 and a strike rate of 132.71. His only noteworthy performance came in Peshawar Zalmi’s last game when he made an explosive 40 off 25 balls in the second eliminator against Islamabad United, which the latter, the eventual champions, won.

Haris, however, has been one of the most destructive batters in Pakistan in the last three years. In the last three PSLs, the right-handed batter has scored 658 runs at an astronomical strike rate of 171. If you add National T20 to the mix, his numbers read 1,135 at a rate of 156.

Selection is based either on recent performances, referred to as form or potential, or a combination of skillset or historical performances. Based on the latter, Pakistan have just brought Hassan Ali back into the squad.

Pakistan plan to submit and announce their final World Cup squad closer to the deadline, which is 25 May, and it is safe to assume that Haris will not make the cut.

The author

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