Pakistan will rest four key all-format players for the upcoming ODI series against Afghanistan in Sri Lanka next month: Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Afridi, and Hasan Ali. This decision will be made to manage their workload and give them a break from their life in the bio-bubble, with the T20 World Cup later this year taking precedence.

Pakistan will soon announce the squad for the ODI series. Even without the top four players, the PCB is confident that the team will perform well. Furthermore, these ODIs are part of the ICC World Cup Super League, and each game will be equally important. While there is no word on who will captain the team for the three ODIs, Rizwan’s absence clears the way for Sarfaraz Ahmed, who has only been on the bench for a year or so. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan are expected to depart for Sri Lanka soon, as they will be quarantined for three days before beginning training.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Pakistan has played more games than any other team except England, resulting in much longer durations of travel as part of a biosecure bubble. Since April 2020, both Rizwan (44) and Babar Azam (40) have played more international games than any other player in the world. Shaheen Afridi played 37 games, while Hasan has played 20 games across all forms since his comeback earlier this year. All four also participated in two PSL seasons, which added to their time spent in bio-bubbles.

Shadab Khan is anticipated to head the side in the absence of Azam and Rizwan, which will be verified when Pakistan announces their team. Before going to Sri Lanka, the team will gather for a week of training at the Lahore National High Performance Center.