Pakistan captain Babar Azam says his team could be without their star pacer Naseem Shah in their first few World Cup matches.
Babar Azam, who leads Pakistan in all formats, says that pace bowler Naseem Shah will not be available for the first few matches of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup, slated to begin on October 5 in India. This insight came to light after Pakistan's elimination from the 2023 Asia Cup.
Naseem suffered an injury to his right shoulder while playing against India, resulting in his unavailability for the remainder of the Asia Cup. The team's management decided to bring in Zaman Khan as his replacement.
Babar Azam sheds light on the Naseem Shah situation
In response to questions regarding Pakistan's contingency plans should Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf be unable to participate in the World Cup, Babar Azam was unable to furnish a definitive timeframe for their potential return. This situation has created an air of uncertainty around the participation of these key players in the prestigious tournament.
Babar, however, conveyed his confidence that Haris Rauf's injury appeared to be less severe when compared to Naseem's condition, giving rise to optimism about Rauf's timely recovery ahead of the tournament.
While the opening batsman did not disclose specific backup plans, he did shed light on the status of both players.
“We won't divulge our Plan B at this stage. Haris Rauf's condition isn't too serious; he's dealing with a minor side strain, and he's on the path to recovery for the World Cup,” the Pakistan captain said after his team’s crushing defeat to India.
“As for Naseem Shah, while they may miss a couple of matches, I remain optimistic that Naseem Shah will join us in the World Cup later. But we'll have to wait and see,” Babar continued.
Babar Azam hints that Naseem Shah may miss start of the World Cup 2023. (To ESPNcricinfo) pic.twitter.com/SLJjJ93zdM— CricketMAN2 (@ImTanujSingh) September 15, 2023
The Pakistan team's doctor, Sohail Saleem, also gave an update on the condition of Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf.
Pakistan suffered without their key pacers
Pakistan's campaign in the 2023 Asia Cup took a severe hit due to the absence of Naseem and Haris, leading to their dramatic exit. They experienced a heart-stopping last-ball loss to Sri Lanka in Colombo on Friday, September 15.
One of the craziest finishes in the ODIs!— Mufaddal Vohra (@mufaddal_vohra) September 14, 2023
Sri Lanka came out on top of Pakistan and knocked them out of Asia Cup…!!! pic.twitter.com/QcQTFpeRaM
The team's dedicated medical panel is keeping a vigilant eye on Naseem's recovery process, leaving no detail overlooked as they meticulously prepare him for the highly-anticipated 50-over World Cup in 2023.
Pakistan's World Cup journey is set to commence with a game against the Netherlands on October 6 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad.