Colombo (Hindustan Reporter) Pakistan captain Babar Azam has expressed the possibility that fast bowler Naseem Shah will not be able to take part in Pakistan’s opening matches in next month’s World Cup in India. Although the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has not made public any timeline for Naseem’s recovery from his right shoulder injury, Babar seemed unsure whether Naseem will be fit before the start of the tournament next month.
However, it is expected that Haris Rauf will be fit by the start of the World Cup; Pakistan did not even officially exclude him from the Asia Cup or formally include Shahnawaz Dahani in his place in the team.
Pakistan is out of the Asia Cup after the defeat against Sri Lanka in the match which lasted till the last ball on Thursday. Speaking to reporters after the match, Babar was confident about Rauf’s chances, while giving evasive answers on Naseem’s full World Cup availability.
When asked what plans Pakistan had if Naseem and Rauf missed out, Babar was cagey about back-up plans, but spoke at length on the duo’s chances.
He said, “I will tell you later. Not telling you my plan B right now. But yes, Haris Rauf is not bad. He just has a little side strain, but he is recovering ahead of the World Cup. Naseem Shah also… he has missed a few matches, I don’t know how long the recovery will take, but in my opinion, Naseem Shah will also be in the World Cup for the later matches of the World Cup.”
The PCB has not yet told how serious Naseem’s injury is. He is currently undergoing scans in Dubai for a muscle injury under his right shoulder, which he suffered while bowling in the death overs against India on Monday. He was out in the middle of the over and was out of the tournament soon after. Rauf did not bowl that day either, as he also had some issues that kept him out, and Pakistan rested him out of an abundance of caution as the World Cup approached.
20-year-old Naseem had to face injury problems in the early stages of his career. A year into his international career, when he was 17, a back injury kept him out of cricket for 14 months. Six weeks after his return, he suffered a shoulder injury while making his County Championship debut with Gloucestershire and was then ruled out for a month.
In the 18 months since, his workload has increased significantly. Naseem has become an important bowler for Pakistan in all three formats. He has been their most powerful bowler since his ODI debut, taking 32 wickets in 14 matches under the age of 17.
In the absence of the two fast bowlers, Pakistan played Mohammad Wasim Jr and Zaman Khan in their crucial match against Sri Lanka. Pakistan team will return home from Sri Lanka via Dubai on Friday.
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