Champions Trophy 2017 winners, Pakistan, are all set to begin their tour of England and Wales with three warm up fixtures. The green shirts will take on Kent and Northamptonshire in 50-over fixtures before travelling to Leicester for a T20 match.
These warm up matches will precede with a T20 International and later 5 One Day International (ODIs) matches against England. Pakistan will then play a practice match against Afghanistan and Bangladesh, before their opening World Cup match scheduled on the 31st of May against the West Indies team.
Despite a poor outing in the 5-match ODI series against Australia in the UAE, Pakistan will have an advantage over other teams going into the mega event as they will have 10 games to get acclimatised with the unpredictable UK weather and conditions and also to get their playing combination right.
Apart from the World Cup bound 15, Pakistan are carrying a couple of additional players in Mohammad Amir and Asif Ali for the series against England. Missing out on the initial selection, the duo will be desperate to impress Mickey Arthur and Sarfraz Ahmed in order to secure World Cup berths.
We do not need a reminder about Pakistan’s historical batting fragilities and in testing English conditions it will really be a challenge for the men in green to provide their bowlers with enough runs to defend.
Apart from a few other vulnerabilities in the batting department, Pakistan do not possess a threatening power hitter who can take the game away from the opposition in the latter half of an ODI innings. This is where Asif Ali can be really handy. The right-handed striker has showcased his potential in the last two editions of the PSL but is yet to prove himself at the international stage.
If Asif shows some form against England and hits a couple of impressive cameos, he will most definitely make his way into the final 15.
On the other hand, the England-series will also be a test for the rookie pacer, Mohammad Husnain, who is still very inexperienced and has minimal first-class cricket under his belt. If the youngster has a couple of off days against the likes of Roy, Bairstow, Morgan, Buttler and Stokes, he can easily pave his way for Amir to be called back for the World Cup squad.
Before the cut-off date of 23rd May, I predict that Pakistan will make at least two changes to their final 15 with Amir and Asif playing their first World Cup of their careers. Let’s see who they replace but I think Abid Ali and Husnain will be the unlucky ones to miss out. Fingers crossed!