Pakistan chief selector Wahab Riaz has reportedly assured Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan that they will not arbitrarily be excluded from upcoming games, after the two senior cricketers expressed concern over media reports that the selection panel was planning to rest them for the five-match T20I series in New Zealand next month. Babar and Rizwan are currently in Australia with the team for the three-Test series. The Pakistan team will then travel to New Zealand for the T20Is beginning January 12 at Auckland.

After Pakistan lost the opening Test at Perth by 360 runs, media reports have suggested that the national selection committee is planning to rest the duo for the T20I series in New Zealand.

A source close to the two players said that former captain Babar and wicketkeeper-batter Rizwan had called up Riaz from Australia and sought a clarification regarding the white-ball series against the Blackcaps.

“Babar and Rizwan made it clear to the chief selector that they had never asked for any rest as they were doing fine. Then why were reports circulating in the media that the selectors were going to rest them,” the insider said.

The source said that Riaz, a former Test fast bowler, had admitted to the duo that he had suggested resting them for a few matches against New Zealand, but later changed his mind.

“Wahab said he had made the suggestion with other selectors and team management. But all of them convinced him that the New Zealand series was important and was not one where the team could manage without two senior players in different conditions,” the source said.

He said that Riaz had assured both Babar and Rizwan that whenever he did decide to rest them for any game or series, he would first speak to them and take their views into consideration before coming to a final decision.

“Wahab assured Babar and Rizwan they remained the backbone of the Pakistan team and their selection for the five-match T20I series confirmed this. So, they had nothing to worry about,” he added.

Babar is said to be feeling the pressure since he was forced to step down as captain from all three formats after the World Cup in India.

“The top batsman has concerns about rumours that the selectors and the cricket board wanted to sideline him to try out other players in the coming white-ball games before the T20 World Cup in the West Indies (and USA) next year.

“But the chief selector has assured Babar there is no conspiracy against him and everyone has utmost faith in his abilities,” said the insider.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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