The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday announced the playing XIs, which included four debutants, for the first T20I against Afghanistan.
The four young players scheduled to make Pakistan debuts this year include opener Saim Ayub, middle-order batter Tayyab Tahir and right-arm quicks Zaman Khan and Ihsanullah.
Players set to mark their returns to the Pakistan side include top-order batter Abdullah Shafique, all-rounders Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim, and Azam Khan.
Saim, who will open the innings alongside Mohammad Haris, has been inducted into the side after a good performance in the domestic circuit and the recently-concluded Pakistan Super League (PSL).
“Whatever I had done in my life was to achieve this jersey and now I want to do justice with this opportunity. There’s excitement and an element of nervousness as well as I never expected to play for Pakistan this early. But, since I have gotten this opportunity, I am going to do my best,” Saim told PCB Digital.
“It is very important to give a good start to your team in T20 cricket no matter what opposition you are playing. You have to assess the conditions quickly and make your presence count and that’s what I will be planning to do with Haris. We have been playing together in Peshawar Zalmi and we were batchmates as well. We enjoy good chemistry and our playing style is also similar — we look to dominate the opposition. So, it will be fun to play with him,” he added.
Tayyab has been in good form over the last 12 months. He made his PSL 8 debut with a breezy 65 and made 137 runs at 144.21 during the event. He was also the best batter in the Pakistan Cup, which concluded in January.
“Whenever a cricketer starts his journey, he idolises the ones who wear the national colours and dream of doing the same,” Tayyab said. “I am grateful to Almighty that I have been provided the opportunity to serve my country. My parents are going to be very happy when they see me play.
“There will definitely be some nerves when I play for Pakistan, but I will be able to overcome them as I have been playing competitive and quality cricket at the domestic level and in the Pakistan Super League. I am very excited to make my Pakistan debut.”
Zaman defended 13 runs in the last over of the PSL 8 final against Multan Sultans to help Lahore Qalandars defend their title.
Meanwhile, Zaman’s fellow pacer Ihsanullah was the Player of the Tournament in PSL 8 after bagging 22 wickets (the second most) at only 15.77 runs apiece.
Pakistan XI for first Afghanistan T20I
Saim Ayub, Mohammad Haris, Abdullah Shafique, Tayyab Tahir, Shadab Khan (c), Azam Khan (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Zaman Khan and Ihsanullah