Pacer Naseem Shah and all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed have earned central contracts from Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the 2020-21 season. The announced was made on 13th May on Wednesday. Naseem Shah and Iftikhar Ahmed are the notable inclusions in the 18-member list. Pace trio of Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali are notable exclusions from central contracts list. However, PCB restated that the experienced pacers will be part of the national setup for next 12 months.
Hailing from Dir in Khyber Pakthunkhuwa, Naseem Shah made his international debut for Pakistan at the age of 16. He became the youngest pace bowler to pick up a five-wicket haul in Test cricket. He also claimed a hat-trick for Pakistan in red-ball cricket. He has placed in C Category alongside Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Usman Shinwari, Fakhar Zaman and Iftikhar Ahmed.
Pakistan Head Coach Misbah Ul Haq that the performances produced in the past one year had a big impact on the contracts. Left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi was surprisingly place in the top category besides Test captain Azhar Ali and T20 captain Babar Azam. With Babar Azam named ODI captain, Azhar Ali will continue to lead the side in red-ball cricket.
Misbah-ul-Haq said that the central contracts have awarded on merit and performances delivered by players in the past one year. He stated that he was delighted with Shaheen Shah Afridi growth as a cricketer in the past 12 months. Misbah said that Naseem has a big find for Pakistan in the bowling department. Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah Afridi are the two promising players for Pakistan for the foreseeable future.
In Category B, Mohammad Rizwan, Shan Masood and Abid Ali have been placed due to their decent performances in the last 12 months. Leg-spinner Yasir Shah and Former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed are also placed in this category. Head Coach Misbah-ul-Haq said that the experienced duo of Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir have not been included in central contracts after they decided to quit Test cricket to prolong their white-ball career.
Hasan Ali has lost his form and zip since his back injury. Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir will be part of the national setup for the coming season. Pakistan Head Coach, Misbah-ul-Haq said that Amir and Wahab are still part of the plans and can contribute a lot to Pakistan cricket team.
Apart from the three categories, PCB also introduced a new Emerging Players’ Category to reward youngsters who made an impact in this year’s Pakistan Super League Seamers Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain, middle-order batsman Haider Ali are the three players named in Emerging Players’s category.
Pakistan Cricket Board Men’s Central contracts for coming season of 2020-21
Category A: Azhar Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Babar Azam
Category B: Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah
Category C: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Naseem Shah, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Usman Shinwari
Emerging Players’ Category: Mohammad Hasnain, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf.