World XI vs Asia XI: Why are Pakistan players not included in Asia XI squad?

Babar Azam (right) and Mohammad Hafeez run between the wicket during the second T20I against Bangladesh at Gaddafi Stadium, in Lahore, Pakistan, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (AP Photo)

Asia XI and World XI are slated to play a two-match T20I series at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Dhaka on March 18 and 21 as part of the nationwide celebrations to mark the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, often referred to as Bangladesh's father of the nation.

The two matches, which will reportedly be given official status by the International Cricket Council (ICC), will feature six Indians including KL Rahul (one game*), Virat Kohli*, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Mohammad Shami, and Kuldeep Yadav.

The Faf du Plessis-led World XI includes, among others, veteran big-hitters Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard. The Asia XI, on the other hand, features four Bangladeshi players in Mustafizur Rahman, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Liton Das.

The Asia XI squad does not feature any Pakistani player.

Last year Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Joint Secretary Jayesh George had claimed no Pakistan players would be invited to be a part of the Asia XI. However, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) retorted by stating that BCCI is giving false and misleading impression about Pakistan players being ignored.

According to a report in the Dawn, it is not the bilateral relation with India but the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) which prevented the players from taking part in the event.

"The T20Is between World XI and Asia XI were scheduled from March 16-20, while the HBL PSL 2020 is likely to end on March 22. Since the dates of both the series couldn't be changed, we offered our regrets to the BCB, both verbally and in writing, which they understood and accepted," a PCB spokesperson said.

"It is unfortunate that the facts were twisted to mislead Pakistan cricket fans and followers," he added.

Asia XI vs World XI schedule:

March 18 — 1st T20I
March 21 — 2nd T20I