Pakistan captain Babar Azam has backed Sharjeel Khan to come good despite his not-so-good fitness. Head coach Misbah-Ul-Haq had even slammed the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for choosing the ‘112 kg’ opener for the upcoming dual tours of South Africa and Zimbabwe.\
Sharjeel had returned to the domestic circuit last year after serving a 24-month ban for his role in the PSL spot-fixing scandal of 2017. His selection to the T20I side for the tour of Africa – South Africa and Zimbabwe – was largely based on his form in the PSL, where he scored a century for Islamabad United.
We Will Bring Sharjeel Khan Up To The Mark: Babar Azam
Despite his fitness issues, Babar Azam called Sharjeel a match-winner, and while admitting his fitness is not that great, mentioned that the team will work on Khan getting up to the mark.
“He can’t be Shadab [Khan] at once but still you need to carry him. I agree his fitness isn’t great but we will bring him up to the mark. His form right now can help us and he is one of the best openers. I have played with him in Karachi Kings and he can take away the pressure and totally change the game. We are working on his fitness and you will see a difference. I never asked for him in ODIs but for T20 cricket, which is a short format, you can adjust,” Azam said.
Sharjeel finished as the third-highest run-scorer in PSL 2021, which was postponed and is slated to begin again in June. Sharjeel was behind Mohammad Rizwan and Azam but at a grand strike rate of 170.94, which was well ahead of the other two. Khan has played 25 ODIs, 15 T20Is, and one Test for Pakistan before his fall from grace.
“I don’t know why there is an impression that his fitness isn’t good enough. He played four-day cricket, a one-day tournament, and the PSL as well so I don’t think there is an issue. He is a match-winner and we are focusing on his fitness as well. In fielding he is great and there isn’t an issue so he is very much part of the squad and we have to back him for the good,” Azam added.
Pakistan plays three ODIs and four T20Is against South Africa before moving to Zimbabwe, where they are scheduled to play two Test matches and three T20Is.
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