World T20: Sharjeel to be preferred over Ahmed for last-minute replacement

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Lahore—A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official on Monday said Sharjeel Khan is likely to be included in the Asia Cup and World Twenty-20 squad due to his outstanding knocks in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), brushing aside chances of Ahmed Shahzad’s return to the national team for the two high-profile events.
Sharjeel scored the very first century of the PSL as Islamabad United moved into the final with a comprehensive 50-run win against Peshawar Zalmi on Monday.
The left-hander also wrote his name in the history books by becoming the first centurion in the PSL and perhaps nudged Pakistan World Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi with his performance.
During post match presentation, Afridi promised that Sharjeel would be ‘rewarded’ for his fiery innings and it appears the national selectors also may have been highly impressed by the opener’s knock.
Talking to media persons on condition of anonymity, a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official said there was strong chance that Sharjeel would be drafted in the Asia Cup and T20 squads.
“Sharjeel has scored 287 runs in the PSL so far with a batting average of 31.88 and a strike rate of 151.05,” the official said when asked whether the southpaw had done enough to earn a recall.
The official said there was a ‘100 per cent possibility’ that Sharjeel would be back in Pakistan colours as selectors were already in search of a good opener.
Sharjeel last featured for Pakistan in August 2014 and has 11 ODI and three T20I caps for his country.
He said chief selector Haroon Rasheed, who is also in Dubai to monitor the performance of players, will recommend changes to the squad if necessary.
“One or two changes will definitely be made in the squad,” said the official.
He clarified, however, that there were ‘no chances of Ahmed Shehzad being drafted into the World T20 squad’ despite decent performances during the PSL.
Shehzad has scored 226 runs in the T20 league so far with an average of 25.11 at a strike rate of 138.65.
Islamabad United take on Quetta Gladiators in the PSL final on Tuesday — after which Pakistan will travel to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup T20 which kicks off on February 24.
The World T20 is set to be staged in India with the Super10 stage starting on March 16.
Meanwhile T20 skipper Shahid Afridi also hinted in his post-match interview that Sharjeel would be rewarded soon for his superb innings.
He said chief selector is also in Dubaito monitor the performance of players so that if anyone is performing outstandingly well then changes could be made in time. “One or two changes will definitely be made in the squad,” he said.
He said the squad announced for the Asia Cup and World T20 lacked a good opener and therefore there are 100 percent possibility that opener Sharjeel would make a comeback.—APP

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