Pakistan captain Babar Azam has hinted that pacer Naseem Shah will not be fit in time to play in Pakistan’s first two World Cup games in India. On the other hand, Haris Rauf, who is recovering from a side issue, is expected to be fit for the start of the World Cup; Pakistan did not even officially rule him out of the Asia Cup or formally induct his replacement, Shahnawaz Dahani, into the squad.
The pair sustained minor injuries during Pakistan’s Super Four match against India at the Asia Cup and were watching from the sidelines when the team was eliminated from the tournament against Sri Lanka in Colombo on Thursday. Teams have until September 28 to submit their squads to the ICC for the six-week tournament, and after that date, they may only change their 15-player groups with permission from the event organisers.
While Babar is optimistic that both Naseem and Rauf will be ready for Pakistan’s World Cup opener against the Netherlands on October 6 in Hyderabad, the skipper was tight-lipped when asked about backup plans if the pair are unable to play.
“I’ll tell you later,” Babar said in the post-match presentation ceremony.
“Not telling you our Plan B now. But yes, Haris Rauf is not bad. He’s just got a little bit of a side strain, but he’s recovering before the World Cup. Naseem Shah also… they have a couple of miss matches, I don’t know (how long) the recovery, but in my opinion, Naseem Shah also (will be) in the World Cup later on. But let’s see,” Babar added.
The PCB has not yet specified the extent of Naseem’s injury. He is currently in Dubai receiving treatment for a muscle injury below his right shoulder that he appeared to sustain while bowling at the death against India on Monday. He was ruled out of the tournament shortly after going off in the middle of the over.