Pakistan head coach, Azhar Mahmood, has stepped forward to clarify speculation surrounding the absence of star pacer Shaheen Afridi in the opening matches of the upcoming T20I series against New Zealand.

Additionally, Mahmood hinted at the possibility of resting key players, including skipper Babar Azam, as part of a strategic rotation policy during the high-stakes series.

During a media interaction amidst the team’s practice session, Mahmood assured reporters that Shaheen Afridi is in prime condition and refuted any claims suggesting otherwise.

“Well, Shaheen Afridi is completely fit. I have heard the news that he may skip the first two games against New Zealand. But this has come from the media and certainly not from us,” Mahmood said.


He further elaborated that decisions regarding player rotations would be contingent upon the evolving dynamics of the series, leaving open the option for Babar Azam to sit out if deemed necessary.

“It is possible Babar Azam can rest but it will depend on the situation. We will view all aspects while making the decision.

Mahmood underscored the significance of squad balance and flexibility, citing the return of experienced campaigners like Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim as assets that bolster the team’s versatility.

“Our squad is balanced and we have tried to cover every aspect of the game. With the return of Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim, we can use them at any time, which is an edge. On the other hand, the batting line has the best available talent.

Dispelling notions of New Zealand fielding a weakened side, Mahmood emphasized the talent and potential of the visiting team, labelling them as future stars in the making.

“The data suggests they have a wealth of experience in domestic cricket. They are their best talent and in T20, no team is weak. I listen about the B team and other stuff but this is the New Zealand team and they will play against Pakistan.

He emphasized the competitiveness of T20 cricket, highlighting the need for Pakistan to approach each match with utmost seriousness, irrespective of the opposition’s lineup.

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