Our condolences go out to Asif Ali and his family. The tragedy they have suffered is colossal and we all share their grief and are praying for them. This tragedy should stress to us the fact that our cricketers are normal beings like us and face the hardships of life like everybody else. Asif Ali had been powering through this difficulty for a while now and given the gravity of its nature it must have affected him mentally and therefore his performance on the field as well, which none of us would have been gracious enough to take into consideration while criticising him for any bad performance. Asif Ali deserves all the praise he can get for continuing to come out for his country through this difficult time.
Just a day after this tragedy, Asif got the news of being selected in Pakistan’s World Cup 2019 squad. We hope he finds the mental strength and courage needed to power through this difficult time and dons the Pakistan kit again. Joining Asif in this squad are two more individuals. The most surprising of the two happens to be Wahab Riaz. Until a month back, Wahab was no where in consideration for a slot in team as made clear by the coach and chief selector both. But 4 ODIs on complete flat tracks against the world’s best ODI team onwards, he finds himself back in the team after two years. The wisdom behind his inclusion leans towards his experience, his potential to generate pace and reverse swing and his good performances in the 2011 and 2015 world cups.
Making way for Wahab is Junaid Khan who once again continues to face unjustifiable neglect from the selectors. Junaid’s performance in the current series was no doubt below par, but one bad series should not see him ruled out of a mega event especially given his better career statistics. Junaid has gotten it too hard it seems. Also making his way to the side is Mohammad Amir. His selection is justifiable and welcomed. He replaces Faheem Ashraf who despite being an all rounder could not justify his selection with either the bat or ball. Amir brings with him the promise of swing and seam in English conditions and is frankly in terms of ODI and List A statistics a better batsman than Faheem as well. Job well done here Inzi. Extremely unlucky to miss out is Abid Ali who has been ruled out without a proper run in the recent series. The only justification for his exclusion can be the presence of three openers (Imam, Fakhar and Hafeez) in the team and the absence of a big hitter which is filled in by Asif Ali. Abid was probably a misfit in the current scheme of things but is nonetheless extremely unlucky to miss out.
Lucky to retain his place in the squad is Mohammmad Hasnain who lacked rhythm, leaked runs and did not look potent enough to pose a real threat. Let’s just hope that the selectors and team management can see something we can’t and that he comes through big time in the mega event.
The stage is now set. Despite the recent successive white washes, I remain hopeful of our team’s chances. Like we always say, it depends which Pakistan side shows up on a particular day. The one to be afraid of, or the one that can do nothing right. Go Pakistan!