Pakistan has announced its preliminary squad of 30 men squad for the T20 WC to be held in Bangladesh. Selection of the squad has been made more on lucid rather than forced grounds. Most of the players have been included based on their recent performances or promise they have shown. There are few exceptions, first being Shoaib Malik whose recent performances in South Africa and also in the ongoing BBL are not satisfactory. He is given a chance based on his previous reputation of being an all-rounder. Another player who is selected based on past reputation is Kamran Akmal, who has not been in his elements neither with gloves nor with bat. Abdul Razzaq might have been useful inclusion but left out due to injury.
Crux of Pak’s batting is built around their senior players, Mohammed Hafeez and Misbah Ul Haq. While, the former is also expected to lead the team in the T20 World cup. Hafeez has had a lean patch before the recent Sri Lanka series, but a meritorious hundred(s) against Sri Lanka in the ODI series saw the resurgence of batting form. Misbah will be the backbone of batting and his unflinching batting form will hold the key to the batting success. The batting looks promising with Nasir Jamshed, Ahmad Shazad and Sharjeel. Umar Akmal and Afridi can do the slog overs salvo and provide the batting buoyancy needed for the T20 format. All round capabilities of Bilawal Bhatti / Anwar Ali are proving useful and are capable of some late order batting flourish; they seem to be in the class of Azhar Mahmood / Razzaq. Pak batting is often a victim of Misbah’s batting benevolence; hence success of Pak batting depends on how well Misbah/Hafeez can usher the rest of the batsmen.
Bowling has been the strength of Pakistan over the years in all formats and is no different now. The return of Umar Gul has boosted the team’s bowling resources. Umar is someone one who can bowl yorkers at will and master of reverse swing. The lanky Mohammad Irfan will get extra bounce on placid Bangladeshi wickets due to his height. Junaid Khan has held the bowling mantle in absence of Umar Gul and has done very well. It is needless to say the extra pace these bowlers generate; Anwar Ali might be an exception to this pace acumen but his batting capabilities will make up for the lack of pace. Ajmal is continuing his stranglehold on top batsman in world cricket and will annihilate the teams with his mystery spin. Hafeez can stem the run flow and provide cushion to attacking bowlers. An interesting inclusion in squad is Yasir Arafat; his strength is bowling in death overs and his recent performances for “Perth Scorchers” in BBL are testament to that. Sohail Tanweer has the needed experience in the limited overs format and might get a nod ahead of Mohammad Irfan. Fielding has been inept and appalling in recent times for Pakistan and they will do their chances no good if they don’t improve in that area.
Pakistan has always been good playing in short bursts and that is how they made the T20 format their “own”. The batting prowess is often compromised due to eschewing / over enthusiastic approach. The omnipotent bowling gives a lot of credence and can cover for the shortcoming of the batting to some extent; but Pakistan batting can benefit from a confrontational approach. Pakistan poses a serious threat to any team on the lifeless Bangladeshi wickets and is a strong contender for a place in the Semis.
SportzCosmos Final 15 Squad: Ahmad Shazad, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammed Hafeez, Misbah Ul Haq , Umar Akmal,Shahid Afridi , Anwar Ali , Abdur Rehaman , Bilawal Bhatti , Umur Gul , Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanveer , Saeed Ajmal , Junaid Khan, Yasir Arafat.