Junaid Khan made his disappointment clear after being left out of Pakistan‘s final 15-man squad for the World Cup on Monday, despite having been named in the provisional squad last month.
The left-arm seamer had been one of the stars of Pakistan’s surprise triumph in the 2017 Champions Trophy, picking up eight wickets at an average of 19.37 and an economy rate of 4.58 in the last international tournament to be held in England, the venue of this summer’s competition.
Khan made his ODI debut right after the 2011 World Cup but missed out on selection for the 2015 edition of the tournament, meaning he was in line to make his debut in the competition this year.
Instead, he has been dropped along with fellow pacer Faheem Ashraf and opening batsman Abid Ali, with the two bowlers being replaced by Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz.
The final squad has become instantly controversial as Amir did not bowl at all in during Pakistan’s recent 4-0 series defeat against England, as the only match in which he was selected was washed out, while Riaz has not played an ODI since that Champions Trophy triumph in 2017.
Khan was selected for the third and fourth ODI of the five-match series, returning figures of 1-57 and 1-85 – the latter his last performance before the squad was announced.
And in a tweet soon after the Pakistan selectors had revealed their decision, Khan put up a picture of himself with his mouth taped shut, adding, “I don’t want to say anything. Truth is bitter.”
I dont want to say anything. Truth is bitter. (Sach karwa hotha hai) pic.twitter.com/BsWRzu0Xbh— Junaid khan 83 (@JunaidkhanREAL) May 20, 2019
At 29 this may have been Khan’s best shot at appearing in a World Cup, as he will be 33 for the next edition, due to be played in India in 2023.
England‘s selectors will settle on a final 15-man World Cup squad on Monday, with the fates of David Willey, Joe Denly and potential wildcard Liam Dawson to the fore.
Just one of those three seems likely to make the cut, with deliberations between national selector Ed Smith, his deputy James Taylor and the captain-coach axis of Trevor Bayliss and Eoin Morgan determining who gets the good news.
Of those who were named in a preliminary squad last month, Alex Hales has already been cast aside for off-field transgressions, replaced by James Vince as the supplementary batsman, while Willey looks likeliest to pay for Jofra Archer’s easy transition to the international stage.
The Yorkshire left-armer has been a feature of the limited-overs set-up throughout the past four years but, with Archer now a certain pick and Tom Curran seemingly improving by the match, he needed to make a major statement in Sunday’s fifth and final one-day international against Pakistan.
England won by 54 runs at Headingley to take the series 4-0 but Willey’s return of one for 55 in nine overs was not the kind that shifts the narrative.
Denly watched from the sidelines in Leeds and must be wondering about his own fate following a peripheral role in the campaign.
Dawson has not featured since a side strain in Sri Lanka last October but the slow left-armer has performed consistently at domestic level and has featured in management discussions as a potential rival for Denly.
He is comfortably the better spin bowler but lacks Denly’s ability to cover any batting slot in the order. The verdict, when it comes, may be a tight one.
One bowler who can surely rest easy is Chris Woakes, who bagged five for 54 in a match-winning cause on Sunday, but even he is not immune to the odd pang of nervous tension.
“Everyone will be looking at their phones tomorrow,” said the Warwickshire seamer.
“Everyone will be wary of that phone call. Even if you feel like you’ve got a good chance to being in the squad, until you hear it from selectors’ mouths, it’s not quite set in stone.
“As a player you’re still probably a little bit on edge, particularly with this 16 and 17 players because everyone has performed at some point.
“It’s a tricky decision for selectors and I’m glad I’m not having to make that decision, but it has to be done.”
Speaking after the fifth ODI, which saw England set a new ground record of 351 for nine before dismissing the tourists for 297, captain Eoin Morgan admitted he was still unsure about who would miss out.
“I don’t know the 15, I could pick 17 names at the moment,” he told Test Match Special.
“It is going to be an extremely tough selection. Every member of the squad has made the decision even tougher.
“There will be a couple of disappointed men in the next few days but those guys, given the nature of high-level sport with injuries and illness, could be called upon during the World Cup.”
It’s both a dead rubber and a dress rehearsal today as England take on Pakistan in the final ODI for both sides before the World Cup.
Two weeks tomorrow, England play Pakistan in the tournament, back at Trent Bridge, where they met on Friday.
Today, with rather less of a buzz in the air, they meet at Headingley for the fifth and final one-day international. England hold an unassailable 3-0 lead.
England: 1 Jonny Bairstow, 2 James Vince, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (c), 5 Jos Buttler (w), 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 David Willey, 9 Chris Woakes, 10 Tom Curran, 11 Adil Rashid.
Pakistan: 1 Fakhar Zaman, 2 Abid Ali, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Sarfaraz Ahmed (c, w), 6 Mohammad Hafeez, 7 Asif Ali, 8 Imad Wasim, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Mohammad Hasnain, 11 Shaheen Afridi.