KARACHI - Pakistan cricket selectors Tuesday rewarded a 19-year-old rookie bowler from the troubled province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a place in the Twenty20 squad. Usman Khan Shinwari was added to the squad for the two-match series against Sri Lanka starting in Dubai on Wednesday after the left-arm paceman impressed in domestic matches. The Pakistan Cricket Board said Shinwari would join the team in time for the first match.
Shinwari bowled his domestic team Zarai Taraqiati Bank (Agriculture Development Bank) to the National Twenty20 title on December 3 with a burst of 5-9 in a devastating four-over spell. His wickets included the second-ball dismissal of Pakistan one-day and Test captain Misbah-ul Haq, who was playing for champions Sui Northern Gas.
Shinwari has been on the selectors' radar target since early this year when he bowled with venom and penetration in domestic matches. Misbah praised the youngster earlier this week and hinted he would make the national team. "Shinwari bowled very well in the Twenty20 final and was nearly unplayable. We are considering his inclusion for the Sri Lanka series," Misbah had said.
Pakistan have a history of introducing fast bowlers at an early age, with Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Aaqib Javed all debuting in their teens. Shinwari may also get the selectors' nod for the five-match one-day series against Sri Lanka which follows the two Twenty20 matches. Paceman Mohammad Irfan has been ruled out due to injury while another quick, Umar Gul, has not fully recovered from a knee operation. Pakistan will also play three Tests against Sri Lanka.