Pakistan Cricket Board has announced it squad for the Cricket World Cup 2019, however like all other teams, they still have a month before the deadline to make changes. This period would be crucial for players like Muhammad Amir who missed out the list. His exclusion comes as no surprise as since the Champions Trophy final in June 2017, Amir has taken five ODI wickets in 101 overs at an average of 92.60 per wicket. This is the worst for all bowlers to have sent down over 600 balls in this period. In comparison, even the second poorest specialist fast bowler, Mark Wood, has taken 20 wickets at 47.75.
Amir is traveling with the team to England for the ODI series and some really strong performances will definitely bring him back into the team especially with Shadab Khan already in danger of missing out due to his illness.
Shadab’s exclusion is big loss for Pakistan as he has been one of the rising stars in limited cricket. He played an integral role in Pakistan’s Champions Trophy triumph with his signal to take the review of Yuvraj’s wicket still part of every marketing campaign. Shadab has taken 47 ODI wickets at 27.74 with a healthy batting average of almost 30. If he misses out, it would be a huge blow for Pakistan who is already short of power hitting options.
Led by Sarfaraz Ahmed, the team is relying on a blend of young and old guns. Sarfaraz is already a decorated captain in Pakistani history but he has been under fire due to his captaincy. His own batting has been affected due to the pressure of captaincy and the team will be hoping that he can rediscover his form. He needs to stay on the wicket and play smartly as his services would definitely be required towards end of innings. More importantly when things aren’t going his way, he needs to keep calm as his shouting and panicking often harms the team than helping.
Shoaib Malik and Muhammad Hafeez lead the old guard in the team; both are playing their last world cup and are determined to make it a memorable one. Malik, the only active player to make his debut in the 1990s, would be relied upon to a play an anchor role in the middle of the inns. He has scored more than 7,400 runs with 9 hundreds along with 156 wickets. His vast experience of limited over cricket can prove to be a good helping hand to the captain during crucial moments of the matches.
Hafeez, the oldest player in the squad, can play the role of pinch hitter towards the end of the innings. With 11 hundreds and more than 6,000 runs to go with his 137 wickets, he can contribute a lot provided that he fully recovers from the injury picked up during Pakistan Super League in mid-February. Faheem Ashraf provides an excellent cover as another effective all-rounder who can pitch in the time of need.
Babar Azam is right now no doubt no Pakistan`s in fact one of the world’s finest limited over batsman. His record speaks itself with 8 hundreds in 59 matches and an average of more than 51. He is expected to lead from the front and with Haris Sohail`s stunning return to the form, they both will play the most integral part in this campaign.
Haris performed exceptionally well against the Australia in recently concluded series.
The middle order would expect the top order to provide the foundation on which Pakistan can make or chase big totals. Fakhar Zaman, Imamul Haq and Abid Ali will compete for the top 2 slots and hopefully we would get to see some high quality exploits from them.
Shaheen Afirdi, Junaid Khan, Hasan Ali, and Mohammad Hasnain would lead the pace attack for the country. Junaid Khan has been an effective player in the past but his injuries leave a question mark on his current form but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he performs well. Hasan Ali has already taken 77 wickets at the average of 24, his journey and passion for the game would definitely motivate the youngsters like Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain who might turn out to be the trump cards for the team.
Pakistan`s squad consists of the best available talent in the country and we hope that the Green shirts would bring the trophy home.