Uncertainty shrouds Naseem Shah's availability for Pakistan's World Cup opening matches
Initially identified as a red-ball specialist, Naseem Shah has evolved as a key bowler for Pakistan across all three formats of the game.
COLOMBO: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam has cast doubts on the possibility of pacer Naseem Shah's timely recovery for their initial matches in the upcoming World Cup in India.
However, their ace pacer Haris Rauf is "recovering well" from a side strain and will be fit in time for their opening match against the Netherlands at Hyderabad on October 6, the skipper has said.
The duo picked up niggling injuries during Pakistan's Super Four clash against India in the Asia Cup and were sitting on the sidelines when the team crashed out of the tournament after losing to Sri Lanka in Colombo on Thursday.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has not yet released any official timeline regarding Naseem's rehabilitation process following a right shoulder injury.
In light of this, Babar Azam expressed uncertainty regarding Naseem's fitness for the start of the tournament.
He said, "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 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 also be) in the World Cup later on. But let's see," he added.
The 20-year-old injury-prone Naseem had a back problem when he was 17 years old and it kept him out for 14 months.
Six weeks following his comeback, a shoulder injury occurred during his debut appearance in the County Championship with Gloucestershire, which kept him out of action for another month.
Initially identified as a red-ball specialist, he has evolved as a key bowler for Pakistan across all three formats of the game.
In ODIs, he has emerged as Pakistan's most formidable bowler, amassing 32 wickets in just 14 matches, all at an average of below 17.
Teams have until September 28 to submit their squads to the ICC for the six-week tournament and they may only alter their 15-player groups after that date with permission from the event organisers.
Pakistan have no official 50-over matches prior to the start of the World Cup, although they do have two warm-up games scheduled against New Zealand (September 29) and Australia (October 3) that do not hold official ODI status.