The 2023 Cricket World Cup is just five months away. The thirteenth edition of the Men’s ODI mega event will be held in India where ten teams compete in a league stage style once in the tournament.
Pakistan automatically qualified for the event after winning their series against the West Indies last year. However, they still have a few things to sort out. One of them is whether they have shortlisted their 15-man squad for the tournament and at least three reserves. With their recent home series concluded against New Zealand, have the right players been found for Pakistan’s Probables for WC 2023?
Pakistan have tried 38 players since the 2019 World Cup out of which only 12 players have played more than 10 ODIs in this time period. In this four years of a time period, it shows how much the national team have kept trusted in most of their top players and backed them. Such was the evidence last year when a similar squad that was picked for the Asia Cup was announced for the Men’s T20 World Cup with just a couple of changes.
It is indeed a positive sign with the management and the selectors trust these players. The ODI side has shown a significant improvement over the past four years, with them just recently reaching the No.1 ODI rank for the very first time in history. With the tournament around, it is a great time to gear up.
Listing down players for Pakistan’s Probables for WC 2023
For starters, we need to quickly eliminate a few players from the list that are no doubt confirmed for the main event. Here’s a table that checks the status of certain players who may or may not be part of the plan;
|Babar Azam||Shan Masood|
|Shadab Khan||Salman Ali Agha|
|Shaheen Afridi||Abdullah Shafique|
|Mohammad Rizwan||Haris Sohail|
|Haris Rauf||Mohammad Wasim Jnr|
|Fakhar Zaman||Usama Mir|
|Imam ul-Haq||Mohammad Haris|
|Naseem Shah||Sarfaraz Ahmed|
|Mohammad Nawaz||Imad Wasim|
The ten “confirmed” players can be moved aside. We will deeply look at the players who are in contention for the tournament. At least eight players (five to complete the main set, three for reserves) are needed to complete Pakistan’s squad.
In the list of 14, there are a few players who are nowhere near the squad but are still in consideration despite not playing any List A cricket lately. Those names are Sarfaraz Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Saud Shakeel, Usman Qadir, Khushdil Shah and Shahnawaz Dahani. Unless the selectors bring them back and give them a few runs, they are not likely to make the cut.
However, former national team and Champions Trophy-winning captain Sarfaraz Ahmed could make a comeback following rumours speculating that team director Mickey Arthur wants him in the team. It is still uncertain whether he will be brought back as a backup with Rizwan and Mohammad Haris proving to be good wicket-keeper batters for the tournament.
Possible Players to Complete the Final 15
As we sweep out the five players who are still in consideration but not on the list for now, we look at the remaining eight players who will possibly fill up the squad. But out of those eight, who will be the final cut?
There are a few players who are still to be sure of to make the final fifteen squads.
Shan Masood, despite not having a great start to his short ODI career, can play a perfect hand as a backup opener. He was PAK’s highest run-scorer in the 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup with an average of over 40. He can fill up for any one of Imam or Fakhar should the team go for rotation policy during the tournament. His List A average is incredible, with a strike rate of over 80 and an average of 55.
Salman Ali Agha is another mention. He is similar to Iftikhar Ahmed but adds a great addition to his all-around dynamics. He played a vital role in the previous ODI series and showed that he can anchor along if needed, as evident in the 5th ODI.
M Wasim Jnr can add a good foil for the fast bowlers. In a long tournament where nine matches will be played for a team, Wasim can be used for the rotation of fast bowlers.
Usama Mir has played a good role as a genuine leg-spinner, notably in Shadab’s absence. On Indian wickets, he may well be given a game or two should be part of the squad and assist Shadab, who’s consistently battling injuries. He can be handy with the bat.
Finally, M Haris can finish up the squad. Not only he can serve as a backup keeper, he can also play as a middle-order batter. In List A cricket, he normally bats at 5 and 6 and has a great record, striking at 106.
The remaining three players can be added to the reserves.
Abdullah Shafique is another opener. His inclusion in the main squad will add one extra opener. He can serve as a backup opener if any one of the main openers rules out.
The same case can be said for Ihsanullah. Fast bowlers are needed to be handled with care. There are only three genuine fast bowlers and one all-rounder. Shaheen Afridi is still recovering from injury which saw his pace go down. He still needs to be looked after. Anyone of the other three falls to an injury can bring Ihsanullah to the main roaster.
Haris Sohail’s case is different. He emerges when it’s a World Cup year. But his recent injury has kept him out of the team. Although it’s not serious and by the time the event arrives, he may well be fit enough. However, it will be a better choice to keep him in the reserves.
Haris has a long history of injuries. He is an imperfectly perfect middle-order batter for the team. You can read more about him here:
The curious case of Haris Sohail
Final squad of Pakistan’s Probables for WC 2023
This is what a possible 15-men squad could look like for Pakistan in the World Cup 2023;
|1||Babar Azam (Capt.)||Batter|
|2||Fakhar Zaman||Opening Batter|
|4||Iftikhar Ahmed||Batting All-rounder|
|5||Imam ul-Haq||Opening Batter|
|9||Mohammad Wasim Jnr||Bowling All-Rounder|
|11||Salman Ali Agha||All-Rounder|
|12||Shadab Khan (Vice Capt.)||All-Rounder|
|14||Shan Masood||Opening Batter|
|16||Abdullah Shafique||Opening Batter|
|17||Haris Sohail||Batting All-rounder|
The first-choice Playing XI could look like this:
- Fakhar Zaman
- Imam ul-Haq
- Babar Azam (Capt)
- M Rizwan (WK)
- Salman Ali Agha
- Iftikhar Ahmed
- Shadab Khan
- M Nawaz
- Shaheen Afridi
- Naseem Shah
- Haris Rauf
The majority of the squad is the same as we have been seeing for the past 12 months. The players have been backed continuously and given a long run, which helped them to gain confidence and prove their abilities on a certain level.
Regardless of what one makes a theory of the Green Team’s roaster for the mega tournament, it is worth noting that there should be support for our national side.