Pak vs SA: Mystery shrouds Mohammad Hafeez’s availability for T20I series

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LAHORE : Pakistan announced its 20-man squad for the upcoming T20I series against South Africa on Sunday and the team’s all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez along with Wahab Riaz were found excluded from the squad.

Following the announcement, the 40-year-old all-rounder took to his Twitter to share the details of the squad with a cryptic caption: “Indeed ALLAH is with the patient”.

However, a well-placed source within the PCB told the publication that just before the first T20 against New Zealand on December 18, Hafeez through an email had communicated to the board that he would not be in a position to participate in the three-match home series against South Africa due to his prior commitment with the T20 league in the UAE.

“Yes, he had sent an email to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) around December 15 which said that he would not be in a position to figure in the T20 series against South Africa due to his commitments with the T10 League in the UAE. Even then we tried to convince him to join the bio-secure bubble on February 3 to which he did not agree,” the source disclosed.

‘We have our limitations’

Pakistan and South Africa cricket authorities have already signed an MoU through which all the selected players for the T20 series will have to join the bubble on or before February 3.

“We have our limitations. Though we wanted to include Hafeez for the series he was adamant to join only on February 5 after playing his last T10 League match on February 4.”

“Since he would be traveling back to Pakistan and in between, he would be out of the bubble for almost a day, and rejoining others could be a risky affair. The PCB on the other hand cannot go against the MoU so we have to stick to the agreement,” the board added.

The other side

Pakistan’s veteran all-rounder had brushed aside rumours about his unavailability for the T20I series against South Africa in a press conference a week ago.

“I’m fully available for the T20I series [against South Africa] as my priority is always playing for Pakistan. I was also given NOC for T10 League because it would not clash with Pakistan’s international commitments. I will also comply with all the bio-secure bubble requirements,” said Hafeez while speaking at the Sports Journalists Association of Lahore’s (SJAL) program “meet the press”.

Joining coronavirus bubble

The publication also highlighted that chief selector Mohammad Wasim talked to Hafeez on Saturday in an effort to convince him to join the bubble in time.

“He was not ready for that as he said he could only join the bubble on February 5. That is the reason Hafeez has been left out of the T20 series,” the source said.

The source added that the PCB comprehended the situation well in time and that was why it had approached Hafeez in December.

“Hafeez’s email came after PCB’s cricket operation department approached him to clarify his position. Hafeez clearly mentioned his inability to make himself available for the series.”