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Who are the surprising inclusions in Pakistan’s squad for T20 World Cup?

Surprising inclusion in Pakistan’s T20 Squad. (Source: PCB)

A number of experienced campaigners were left out from the national squad for next month’s T20 World Cup as well as the home series against New Zealand and England.

Former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz, veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik, hard-hitting openers Sharjeel Khan and utility player Fahim Ashraf were the notable absentees. Selection has always been an issue seriously highlighted by not only by experts but also by the general public.

Pakistan’s limited-overs squads have gone through numerous changes in the last couple of years. Since the 2019 World Cup, they have tried 27 players in 11 ODIs and 38 players in 34 T20Is.

Pakistan T20 squad

Babar Azam, Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Azam Khan, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Shaheen Afridi and Sohaib Maqsood. Reserve players: Shanawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir and Fakhar Zaman

Commenting on the selection, Muhammad Wasim said that the cricket board had tried to cover all bases by catering for the modern day brand of T20 cricket. “This includes trusting the abilities, skills and experience of the players to perform in a high pressure global tournament in conditions that are familiar to us,” he said.

Surprising inclusions

While the experienced quintet was snubbed, the young Azam Khan was picked in the 15-man squad, with his selection set to raise plenty of eyebrows due to his inexperience at the highest level and an underwhelming batting debut against England.  

Also in the squad is the out-of-form Asif Ali, who is finding runs hard to come by in the ongoing Caribbean Premier League 2021. Recalling these two players are among the worst possible choices one can imagine for a global competition.

PCB probably overlooked the fact that Asif hadn’t played a T20 International on the UAE soil in the past three years and boasts a strike-rate of 109.72 across six matches on the slow-paced pitches of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Moreover, there are further question marks over selection of Khushdil Shah who has been preferred to fill up one of the batting slots after the dramatic demotion of Fakhar Zaman to the ranks of reserves and the catastrophic axing of Sharjeel Khan.

Even Fakhar Zaman has been included as a reserve player after his best performance against South Africa (193). According to Chief Selector, Sohaib Maqsood’s ability to bat and perform anywhere in the top-order has given him an edge over Fakhar.

Experience is the key

Most of the T20 World Cups held since 2007 have been won by the teams with the best combination of senior and junior.

There is no denying Azam Khan’s overall T20 stats with a strike-rate of almost 150 (149.92) is much higher than any wicket-keeper/batter currently playing in the country. However, lack of enough international exposure is Azam’s biggest drawback, while questions have been repeatedly raised about his massive physique.

With the lack of experience in the middle order, Shoaib Malik has been not selected in the Pakistan World T20 squad. The veteran played lots of T20I cricket on UAE soil and would have created a major impact.

Pakistan needed Sarfaraz as a batsman to cover the inexperienced middle order. He has a sound technique against spin bowling and has scored plenty of runs in UAE.