Pakistan rest skipper Babar for Afghanistan T20Is
Pakistan have rung the changes for the Twenty20 international series against Afghanistan later this month, resting skipper Babar Azam and handing the captaincy to Shadab Khan, selectors said on Monday.
The three matches are scheduled for March 24, 26 and 27 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
There are nine changes to the squad from the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in November last year, with Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf also rested.
Shadab, 24, has previously led Pakistan in three Twenty20 internationals in New Zealand in December 2020, when Azam missed out through injury, losing the series 2-1.
The three-man selection committee called up several new players who have performed well in the ongoing Pakistan Super League.
"I spoke to all the senior players taking them in confidence about resting them for the Afghanistan series," Pakistan Cricket Board management committee head Najam Sethi told a press conference.
"Azam is our captain and an asset so... you will see him return in the next series."
There are recalls for Imad Wasim, Azam Khan, Abdullah Shafique and Faheem Ashraf.
Imad played the last of his 58 Twenty20 internationals in November 2021, while Azam Khan and Shafique have played three internationals apiece.
Newcomers include batsmen Saim Ayub, 20, and Tayyab Tahir, 29. The 20-year-old Ihsanullah and Zaman Khan, 21, are fast bowlers.
This will be the first bilateral series between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Former captain Mohammad Yousuf will act as head coach and batting coach for the series.
Squad: Shadab Khan (captain), Abdullah Shafique, Azam Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Ihsanullah, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shan Masood, Tayyab Tahir, Zaman Khan