Mohammad Amir, PCB
(Credits: Twitter)
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Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced its 18-player central contract on Wednesday which will come into effect from July 1. Among the significant changes, wicket-keeper batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed has been demoted to ‘Category B’ while premier fast bowler Mohammad Amir has missed out on the contract.

In-form Babar Azam has been shown reliance as he has been named as the captain for the ODI and T20I side while Azhar Ali will lead the Pakistan Test team. The central contract included Naseem Shah and Iftikhar Ahmad as the new faces for the 2020-21 season.

Babar Azam
Babar Azam (Credits: Twitter)

“Naseem Shah became the youngest Test bowler in history to take a fifer and a hat-trick in consecutive Tests against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in Karachi and Rawalpindi, respectively. Iftikhar, who had the best average and strike rate in T20Is amongst the Pakistan batsmen, played two Tests, two ODIs and seven T20Is in the 2019-20 season,” the PCB said in the official media release.

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“Naseem’s bowling partner Shaheen Shah Afridi, who took the most Test wickets for Pakistan in the 2019-20 season, is one of the four players to get promotions.

Shaheen, following his 18 Test and two T20I wickets, has moved up in Category A, while Abid Ali (174 runs in three Tests and 74 runs in an ODI), Mohammad Rizwan (212 runs and 16 dismissals in five Tests, 50 runs and two dismissals in five T20Is) and Shan Masood (396 runs in five Tests) have been awarded Category B,” the release added.

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Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz miss out on central contracts announced by PCB

Apart from Mohammad Amir, senior members Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz have also missed out on the central contract. However, according to the statement, they will remain in contention for selection in what will be a busier cricket season as compared to the one that has just concluded, while Imam-ul-Haq, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Yasir Shah have slipped one category each.

Mohammad Amir, Virat Kohli
Mohammad Amir. (Photo credit – ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

“The philosophy and criteria for this merit-based central contract list was simple and straightforward: the selectors reviewed player performances in the past 12 months and then looked ahead to our team requirements in the forthcoming 12 months,” Pakistan men’s national team chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said.

“I want to congratulate Azhar Ali and Babar Azam for getting captaincy extensions. This is absolutely the right decision as they also require certainty and clarity on their future roles. I am sure they will now start looking to the future and start planning so that they can build sides that can perform at the expected levels,” he added.

Speaking about Amir, Hasan and Wahab missing out the contract, he said, “The selectors have made the tough decisions to leave out Amir, Hasan and Wahab but considering Hasan missed most of the season due to an injury and Amir and Wahab decided to focus on white-ball cricket, this was the right move. However, Amir and Wahab are senior and experienced bowlers and they remain in contention as we believe they can still contribute to the Pakistan men’s cricket team and also mentor our young battery of fast bowlers.”

PCB Men’s Central Contract List for 2020-21:

Category A

  1. Azhar Ali (Central Punjab)
  2. Babar Azam (Central Punjab/Karachi Kings)
  3. Shaheen Shah Afridi (Northern/Lahore Qalandars).

Category B

  1. Abid Ali (Sindh/Lahore Qalandars)
  2. Asad Shafiq (Sindh/Multan Sultans)
  3. Haris Sohail (Balochistan)
  4. Mohammad Abbas (Southern Punjab)
  5. Mohammad Rizwan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/Karachi Kings)
  6. Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh/Quetta Gladiators)
  7. Shadab Khan (Northern/Islamabad United)
  8. Shan Masood (Southern Punjab/Multan Sultans)
  9. Yasir Shah (Balochistan/Peshawar Zalmi).

Category C

  1. Fakhar Zaman (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/Lahore Qalandars)
  2. Iftikhar Ahmed (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/Karachi Kings)
  3. Imad Wasim (Northern/Karachi Kings)
  4. Imam-ul-Haq (Balochistan/Peshawar Zalmi)
  5. Naseem Shah (Central Punjab/Quetta Gladiators)
  6. Usman Shinwari (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/Lahore Qalandars)

Emerging Players’ Category

  1. Haider Ali (Northern/Peshawar Zalmi)
  2. Haris Rauf (Northern/Lahore Qalandars)
  3. Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh/Quetta Gladiators)