Pakistan Squad Breakdown: A look at each player and his role

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced a 15-men team for the upcoming 2022 Men’s ICC T20 World Cup which will be held in Australia from October 16 to November 13. Along with the 15-men Pakistan Squad, three reserves were also named on the national side.

There was a fair share amount of criticism from the fans and experts on certain players and their selection. For that, we will break down each and every player from the selected 15 and look at their strengths and weaknesses. 

Batters in Pakistan Squad

Babar Azam (Captain)

There is really no definition of what our national team’s captain Babar Azam is capable of. But his recent form lately in the T20Is has been a little concerning. He returned poor figures in the Asia Cup, managing only 68 runs in six innings.

But Babar’s has the ability to make a solid comeback. Especially on the biggest stage. He has been Pakistan’s highest run-scorer in the past two ICC events. In the 2021 edition, he top-scored in the tournament while being the only one to score 300+ runs.

In relation to Babar, read more: Decline Of Babar Azam In Asia Cup 2022

Asif Ali

Asif gets a lot of criticism for not scoring enough runs. But there have been times when he finished off games for PAK. Such as the Aisa Cup game against India in Super 4s or the T20 World Cup game against Afghanistan.

Asif enjoys the ball coming onto the bat nicely and he will enjoy Australian wickets. Ideally, Asif is a finisher. It would be wise for him to come around at the 6-7 spot and ask him to score as many as he can without the feeling of scoring less.

Haider Ali

It’s been a curious case of Haider Ali, who has been with the Pakistan squad but hasn’t played a game since December. His last three innings were match-winning innings, including 45 against Bangladesh in a tricky 3rd T20I.

But he finds himself out of the playing XI, not being able to get a spot. It would have been a fine opportunity for him in the Asia Cup, but PAK management had other plans. In the coming England series, Haider deserves a go and he can solve Babar’s team’s middle order issue.

Mohammad Rizwan (Wicket-Keeper)

Babar’s partner in crime recently had backlash from many fans and former cricketers for playing slow. His strike rate in the Asia Cup was just 117, despite being the highest run-getter. He played a couple of well-calculated innings, but his approach was questionable.

But it was just one tournament. Otherwise, Rizwan has won matches for the Green Team with a much better striking rate since the day he opened the innings. A little tinker is needed from his side, otherwise, he is a match-winner who can change his gears at will.

Shan Masood

If there has been anyone more deserving of a spot in the team, it’s Shan Masood. This year has been an excellent run for the southpaw. In the ongoing National T20 Cup, Shan is in the top 10 run-scorers at an average of 30 and a decent strike rate of 128. But in the Vitality Blast in England, that’s where he truly sparked. He scored 547 in 14 innings at a brilliant average of 45 and a strike rate of 140.

But there’s uncertainty whether he will be slotted in the playing XI straight away. With Babar and Rizwan opening fixed, Shan can either be slotted at 3 or 4 if given the opportunity. But looking at Pakistan’s overall XI that played in the Asia Cup, there’s a higher chance of Haider taking the no.3 spot. The upcoming England series will be the perfect opportunity for Shan to shine his name.

Bowlers in Pakistan Squad

Haris Rauf

The more Haris plays, the better he gets. Rauf has found himself to be the prominent bowler for the side. He has been the team’s highest wicket-taker in the shortest format since the start of 2021, and the third highest in all formats in the same time period.

The issue with Haris most of the time is the lack of consistency in the death bowling. His leaking runs at crucial stages is still an issue which needs to be sorted. But what makes Rauf very dangerous for the national team is that he has a vast experience in BBL and that will help in the case of the Green Team.

Mohammad Hasnain

Suspended from international cricket for his illegal bowling, Hasnain made a fine comeback in the Asia Cup. Although he was expensive, he bowled well and will only get better.

The issue with Hasnain’s selection is he took Shahnawaz Dahani’s spot. From an understanding, it makes more sense to have Hasnain in the bowling line-up given he played BBL earlier this year and he highlighted his performances. 

Naseem Shah

Naseem Shah made his return to PAK’s side earlier this year and showed how improved he has been. He made his debut in the Asian championship tournament and was excellent. He was praised by experts for his ability to bowl at excellent pace and swing.

Also read: The Resurgence Of Naseem Shah

Naseem has made his strong case for the first-choice XI alongside Shaheen and Haris. He will play an important role in the Babar and his men’s tournament progress.

Shaheen Afridi

Shaheen Afridi is back and is ready to bowl again. He was injured in the Sri Lanka Test series which ruled him out for the Asian Championship. Though there was a little concerning reveal from his soon-to-be father-in-law Shahid Afridi on how he spent his rehabilitation all on his own.

All things aside, it is great news for him to be back. Shaheen is our only left-arm pacer in the selected squad and his bowling will be very crucial in PAK’s most important games.

Usman Qadir

Another selection that baffled many experts. Usman Qadir has been with the Pakistan squad since the day he made his debut. But he only gets a game when Shadab isn’t around. But it is understood that with Shadab coming back from his successful recovery, having Usman is a just-in-case scenario.

In any case, if Shadab suffers an injury, Usman Qadir will replace him. Leg-spinners have always been attacking options. Plus, Usman has played for Australia domestic before so his experience in that condition may well suit him.

All-rounders

Shadab Khan (Vice-Captain)

We come to the vice-captain Shadab Khan who has been mostly labelled as the “X” factor for the tournament. His all-around skills, as well as his BBL experience, will come in very handy for his captain and his team.

Shadab has played a crucial role. His batting has improved and showed many times how he can be useful in the middle order.

Iftikhar Ahmed

It could have been Shoaib Malik in this case but Iftikhar has been preferred over probably because of his short but impressive record in Australia and New Zealand conditions. 

He played an important role in the Green Team’s scoring during the 2019 Australia tour. He was the second top-scorer in the series and played a finishing knock in the 3rd T20I against New Zealand a year later.

Khushdil Shah

Khushdil’s a very good hitter but his issue is with the time he takes to settle. Many times we have seen his way of finishing matches on his own and on high, but when it is required for Khushdil to go hard from ball one, it gets slightly difficult for him to do that.

Aside from this, Khushdil’s an excellent hitter and he can take the bowlers to the cleaners. Another thing he adds is his economical bowling though he hardly bowls like Iftikhar. 

Mohammad Nawaz

When Imad Wasim was in the side, Mohammad Nawaz was hardly around the XI. Now permanent in the side, Nawaz has been an excellent all-rounder for the Green Team lately. He brings a well-balanced to the XI. Nawaz’s bowling is an important prospect. Many times he has bowled very tightly which frustrated the opposing batters to throw their wickets away. 

Nawaz’s recent highlights were his batting, especially at no.4 which he batted against India in the Super 4s that earned many praises. Nawaz batted at no.4 before in last year’s National T20, where he averaged 54 and struck at 145. He can be a fine solution at the top.

Mohammad Wasim Jnr

Ruled out from the Asian Championship due to injury, Wasim Jnr is also back and he will also be a vital player. An all-rounder who can hit long and hard, his inclusion in the XI is a must. Like Nawaz, he brings balance to the XI. Only here in the lower order.

The advantage Wasim has is his height and his ability to bowl at a good pace. He’s got a pretty good yorker which we have seen bowling with a reverse at times. 

Best Possible Playing XI from the Pakistan squad

Following is the XI which I believe to be the right Playing XI:

  1. Babar Azam (C)
  2. M Rizwan (wk)
  3. Haider Ali
  4. M Nawaz 
  5. Shadab Khan
  6. Iftikhar Ahmed
  7. Asif Ali
  8. M Wasim Jnr 
  9. Shaheen Afridi
  10. Naseem Shah
  11. Haris Rauf

The opening slot will remain fixed with Babar and Rizwan. 

Having Shan Masood in at 3 or 4 means that you have the same dimensional players in the top 4. Babar, Rizwan and Shan are the kind of players who takes time before going. Having Haider at three, who likes to go from ball one, would be more suitable.

I’ve already mentioned why Nawaz will be needed at 4. Shadab Khan has a strong case for batting at 5 as he showed before in the PSL as well as for his national side. He can play duel roles depending on the situation

No.6 can be tricky. Iftikhar and Khushdil are similar except one are right and the other is left. Only one of them could play. Iftikhar’s experience will sort him there. And as for Asif, let him play freely at the 7th spot.

The rest will be bowlers (plus Wasim) who, if they batted, will go all out for runs.

Let’s back our Pakistan team and pray for their success.

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