MALAHIDE: It’s all change for Pakistan as they return to white-ball cricket for two one-day internationals against Ireland in Malahide near Dublin, starting on Thursday, ahead of their five-match series with England.
Only six of the players who took part in the exciting Test series in England — which they drew 2-2 with a four-day victory at The Oval on Sunday — stay on for the ODIs, in a 15-man squad captained by Azhar Ali.
Sami Aslam, Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar are the only specialist batsmen who keep their places along with Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah, but it is the return of pace bowler Umar Gul which has been the major talking point.
Gul, 32, who played against Ireland in Pakistan’s shock World Cup defeat back in 2007, has not played 50-over cricket for 16 months but his experience of English conditions has seen him replace the giant Mohammad Irfan.
The only uncapped player in the squad is also a seam bowler, 22-year-old Hasan Ali who impressed in England in the recently completed Pakistan A tour from which slow left arm all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz has also been promoted, hoping to add to his two T20 internationals.
Ireland were dealt a huge blow on Tuesday with the news that former England pace bowler Boyd Rankin has not only been ruled out of the series but the rest of the season, including the ODIs in Benoni at the end of next month against South Africa and Australia.
Rankin suffered a fracture of his left leg, when training for Warwickshire’s ongoing English County Championship game against Surrey, which has ruled him out of action for at least eight weeks.
Ireland have decided not to replace Rankin in their 14-man squad, happy with the return of Craig Young, following elbow surgery and the impressive ODI debut of Durham’s Barry McCarthy in the recent series against Sri Lanka.
Thursday’s game will be the seventh ODI between the teams and the side batting second has never lost.
Pakistan have won four, most recently in the final World Cup group game at Adelaide last year by seven wickets when both Ireland captain William Porterfield and Sarfraz Ahmed scored centuries.
Ireland, famously, knocked Pakistan out of the 2007 World Cup at Sabina Park, Jamaica, winning by three wickets.
The teams tied the first game in the last series in Ireland in 2013, the only other time Pakistan have batted first.