"Not telling our Plan B now" - Babar Azam gets defensive over Naseem Shah's recovery timeline for WC
As of now, the Pakistan Cricket Board has not released an official timeline for Naseem's recovery from his right shoulder injury.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam has expressed concern about pacer Naseem Shah's ability to recover in time for the ICC ODI World Cup in India. In contrast, Babar confirmed that their star pacer Haris Rauf is reported to be "recovering well" from a side strain and is expected to be fully prepared for their first match against the Netherlands on October 6 in Hyderabad.
Both players sustained minor injuries during Pakistan's Super 4 match against India in the Asia Cup and were subsequently sidelined as the team exited the tournament following a loss to Sri Lanka in Colombo last night (September 14).
As of now, the Pakistan Cricket Board has not released an official timeline for Naseem's recovery from his right shoulder injury. This has led to Babar Azam's apprehensions regarding Naseem's fitness for the tournament's kickoff.
Babar said to reporters, "I'll tell you later... Not telling you our Plan B now. But, yes, Haris Rauf is not bad. He's just got a little bit of a side strain, but he's recovering before the World Cup.
Naseem Shah has evolved into a pivotal cog in the Pakistan pace bowling setup
The Pakistan skipper added, "Naseem Shah also... they have a couple of missed matches, I don't know (how long) the recovery (is), but in my opinion, Naseem Shah also (will be) in the World Cup later on. But let's see."
Naseem, at the age of 20, has a history of susceptibility to injuries, having previously grappled with a back condition at the age of 17 that kept him out of action for 14 months. A mere six weeks after his return, he suffered a shoulder injury during his debut appearance in the County Championship for Gloucestershire, resulting in another month-long absence from play. Initially labeled as a red-ball specialist, Naseem has evolved into a pivotal bowler for Pakistan across all three formats of the game.
In ODIs, he has proven himself as Pakistan's most potent bowler, amassing 32 wickets in 14 matches at an impressive average of under 17.