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Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja believes that the five-match ODI series against England will be extremely important for left-arm seamer Mohammad Amir and big-hitting batsman Asif Ali.
Both Amir and Asif were left out of Pakistan’s World Cup team when it was announced last month.
Amir’s form in ODIs has been dismal since the conclusion of the Champions Trophy in June 2017 as he has taken five wickets in 14 matches at an average of 92.60.
Asif, meanwhile, had a solid campaign at the Pakistan Super League (PSL), where he accumulated 281 runs in 12 games for Islamabad United, which included two half-centuries, at an average of 35.12 and an incredible strike-rate of 182.46.
With Pakistan being allowed to make changes to their World Cup squad without permission from the International Cricket Council (ICC) until May 23, Ramiz admitted that all eyes will be on Amir and Asif during the ODI series as they could force their way into the finalised team for the World Cup.
“There will be a lot of focus on Mohammad Amir over how he bowls after the speedster failed to make [it] into the World Cup squad, he can make a comeback,” Ramiz was quoted as saying by the Business Recorder.
“Similar is the case with Asif Ali, who has got the opportunity after Shoaib Malik [will] be available in the second ODI, so Asif is probable to play in the first ODI and show off his skills because Pakistan is weak when it comes to power hitting and Asif Ali fills that deficiency.”
After the ODI series against England, Pakistan will play two World Cup warm-up games against Afghanistan and Bangladesh in Bristol and Cardiff on May 24 and 26 respectively.
They will then kick off their World Cup campaign against the West Indies in Nottingham on May 31.