Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed. @ AFP

Keeping players’ workload in mind ahead of the ICC World Cup 2019, Pakistan may rest captain Sarfraz Ahmed for the five-match ODI series which gets underway on March 22 in Sharjah.

Pakistan’s chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq hinted that Shoaib Malik will take over the reins from Sarfraz, while wicketkeeper batsman Umar Akmal may earn a recall to replace the injured Mohammad Hafeez.

“This is my idea [to rest Sarfaraz] and a few others. Our players have been playing for quite long time, Asia Cup [in September 2018], then the series against Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and then straightaway the Pakistan Super League (PSL). After PSL, there’s no time. There’s the Australia series then there’s Pakistan Cup at home and the England tour,” Inzamam told ESPNCricinfo on Tuesday. (ALSO READ: I don’t think cricket should be targeted for political gains: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed)

“I don’t think players should play for that long. So, I am resting those who are under a lot of stress from last five months and playing in all three formats.

“If you enter in any event, I have strong belief that you should go [in] with fresh legs, fresh minds, instead of having injuries like stiff backs, shoulder injury, elbow problem or hamstring injury. I don’t think we should enter into such a big tournament like this. We have to enter in tournament with players who are 100 percent fit and fresh both physically and mentally. Within two months of time, starting from England series, we have to play around 20 to 21 games and it will be a hectic outing to England including practice matches.”

The former Pakistan captain revealed that left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir, who has picked up only five wickets in 13 ODIs – averaging 80.80 – since the start of January 2018, may not be an automatic selection.

“Amir might not be an automatic selection at this stage but he is very good bowler and there is no doubt it,” Inzamam said. (ALSO READ: Not just cricket, cut off all sporting ties with Pakistan: Sourav Ganguly)

“Unfortunately, he is not looking in his best form. He has enough time for the World Cup, he will be back in the rhythm. If a senior bowler like him looks out of form, off-colour, it’s a worry for us, but we still have time for Amir. We still have 10 one-dayers and two-three months. Amir can make a comeback. We will give him full chance to make a comeback. He is a big-occasion bowler and we need to have a bowler like him in our armoury.”

Veteran allrounder Hazeef, who sustained a thumb injury during the PSL is also expected to be out of action for two months. Legspinner Shadab Khan will also be rested for the series.

“I am worried about Hafeez’s injury. Doctors are telling me that it will take eight weeks,” Inzamam said.

“For the World Cup team, you have been playing for quite some time and there’s not much room to make changes. After Australia series we have England series and then practice matches. We can see if Hafeez gets fit by then.”

Inzamam said that if Hafeez’s injury does not heal, then Umar Akmal, who has scored 200 runs in his last five T20s, may get a look in. “There will be no surprise package and we won’t do any such selection which surprises,” Inzamam said. (ALSO READ: PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani outlines Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for Pakistan cricket)

“I will try to believe in the same team which we have been playing with for quite some time. This is also preparation of World Cup and it’s better to play with the same combination. There are few options for us to replace Hafeez though. Umar Akmal is doing well, we have players in middle-order, we have Hussain Talat who went to South Africa. I wish Hafeez gets fit otherwise we have other options. Umar has performed well so far and we will definitely consider him,” he said.