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'Babar Azam, Rizwan Not Going Nepal,' Kamran Akmal Lashes Out At Critics

image-lqhx3xzkMohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam (AP)

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) recently announced a star-studded Pakistan line-up for their forthcoming five-match T20I series in New Zealand. The team features a number of senior players, including modern-day batting icons Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

Upon announcing the T20I squad, PCB selection consultant Kamran Akmal dismissed the notion of resting senior players in lieu of next year’s T20 World Cup 2024 in the West Indies. A former cricketer himself, Akmal said that the Pakistan team is scheduled to travel to New Zealand and not Nepal where senior players can be rested.

Kamran Akmal’s blunt response over player’s rest

Former Pakistan wicketkeeper and current selection consultant Kamran Akmal dismissed the thought of resting senior players like Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan for the T20I series in New Zealand, in a T20 World Cup 2024 year no less. 

“No one from team management or selection committee talked about giving rest to Babar and Rizwan during New Zealand series. Pakistan is going to New Zealand, not Nepal, where senior players can be rested. No one can think like that," Akmal said while speaking with a Pakistan-based TV channel.

The Pakistan squad for T20Is in New Zealand features potential format debutants in the form of Aamer Jamal and Haseebullah Khan. The two uncapped cricketers were selected on the back of their splendid run at the National T20 Cup 2023.

The ‘Men in Green’, under Shaheen Afridi, will commence their New Zealand tour with the series opener on January 12 at Auckland’s Eden Park. The tour will conclude at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on January 21.

The series not only marks Pakistan’s first limited-overs assignment since the conclusion of the 2023 World Cup, but also their first under the newly-appointed skipper. The fixtures further serve as a dress rehearsal for both sides in their road towards the impending T20 World Cup 2024, set to be played in the West Indies and United States in June 2024.