Image taken by: Bimal Mirwani
Umar Gul believes Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf will be the first picks for Pakistan’s pace attack for the upcoming 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup in India.
He noted that given how well the trio have been performing, there is no way the national selectors will overlook them for the star-studded event.
“The first choice will be the trio pace attack of Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf for the mega event,” he told Cricket Pakistan.
All three have been in action for Pakistan recently, with Afridi and Naseem featuring in the two-Test series against Sri Lanka, which the men in green won 2-0.
Rauf joined Afridi and Naseem in the three-match ODI series against Afghanistan, which Pakistan won 3-0.
The trio recent featured in the Asia Cup, with Afridi claiming 10 wickets in five games at an average of 23.50.
Rauf finished with nine wickets in four matches at an average of 13.33, while Naseem claimed seven wickets in four games at an average of 20.
Pakistan began their campaign with a brutal 238-run win over Nepal before sharing one point apiece with India as their match was abandoned due to rain.
Having advanced to the Super Four stage, the men in green took down Bangladesh by seven wickets.
Pakistan’s unbeaten run was stopped by India as the men in blue demolished them by 228 runs.
Despite this, they still had an opportunity to make it to the Asia Cup final, but blew it when they lost to Sri Lanka by two wickets via the Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method (DLS) method.
To make matters worse, Naseem and Rauf both suffered injuries in the loss to India, with the former hurting his bowling shoulder while the latter was diagnosed with an issue to his right flank.
Rauf is expected to be fit in time for the World Cup, but Naseem is likely to be ruled out of the World Cup, Pakistan’s tour of Australia at the end of the year, and possibly the 2024 Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Pakistan Squad for 2023 Asia Cup: Babar Azam (capt), Shadab Khan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Saud Shakeel, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Haris (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Shahnawaz Dahani, Zaman Khan.
Travelling reserve: Tayyab Tahir