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Former all-rounder Shahid Afridi believes that opener Sharjeel Khan and wicketkeeper-batsman Azam Khan can represent Pakistan for a long time.
Afridi’s praise comes after Sharjeel was included in Pakistan’s T20 squad for the tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe.
He now faces the prospect of making his international comeback after last playing for the national team in January 2017.
In the National T20 Cup, the 31-year-old scored 233 runs in 11 matches for Sindh, which included two half-centuries, at an average of 21.18 and a strike-rate of 122.63.
As for the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, he amassed 656 runs in eight games, which included two hundreds and four half-centuries, at an average of 43.73.
He followed that up with 179 runs in seven matches in the Pakistan Cup, which included a top score of 108, at an average of 25.57 and a strike-rate of 127.85.
Most recently, Sharjeel represented the Karachi Kings in the PSL. He was in superb form before the tournament was postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) as he was the third-highest run-scorer with 200 runs in five matches, which included a century and a fifty, at an average of 40 and a strike-rate of 170.94.
He also had the most sixes with 15. Lahore Qalandars star Mohammad Hafeez was in second place with 12, while Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi, who was playing for the Kings, was in third place with 11.
Azam, meanwhile, is the son of former Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman and captain Moin Khan and has been turning heads with a number of strong performances in domestic cricket.
In the Pakistan Cup, the 22-year-old accumulated 186 runs in seven games for Sindh, which included a top score of 69, at an average of 46.50 and a strike-rate of 124.83.
As for the Pakistan Super League (PSL), he scored 98 runs in five matches for the Quetta Gladiators at an average of 19.60 and a strike-rate of 144.11.
While he sees bright futures ahead of Sharjeel and Azam, Afridi said they will have to improve their fitness.
“I think these guys can represent Pakistan for a long time if they can focus on their fitness levels,” Afridi was quoted as saying by Cricket Pakistan.
Pakistan will play three ODIs and four T20 Internationals against South Africa before heading to Zimbabwe for two Tests and three T20 Internationals.
Pakistan departed for South Africa on March 26 and the tour will commence on April 2 and conclude on April 16. The ODI series will be played first.
The men in green will then head to Zimbabwe on April 17 and play the three-match T20 series from April 21 to 25 in Harare.
Both Tests will take place at the same venue, with the first match starting on April 29 and the second Test getting underway on May 7.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed that the national team will travel back to Lahore from Harare on May 12.
Pakistan’s Test Squad: Babar Azam (capt), Imran Butt, Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Saud Shakeel, Agha Salman, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Tabish Khan, Hasan Ali, Shahnawaz Dhani, Nauman Ali, Zahid Mahmood, Sajid Khan.
Pakistan’s ODI Squad: Babar Azam (capt), Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Abdullah Shafique, Haider Ali, Danish Aziz, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Usman Qadir, Hasan Ali.
Pakistan’s T20 Squad: Babar Azam (capt), Shadab Khan, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Haider Ali, Danish Aziz, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Usman Qadir, Hasan Ali, Arshad Iqbal.