BY KAUKAB AZHAR
Pakistan cricket team’s Chief Selector, Muhammad Wasim announced the T20I Squad for the World Cup today in which many surprising calls were made.
The team management has been experimenting with many combinations and players for the past year yet there were many spots up for grabs.
Here is a look at the five biggest mistakes that were made in selecting the squad for the most important event of the year.
Who would have thought that Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah would make an entry into the final squad? Both have done absolutely nothing to prove that they are good enough at the international level.
Sohaib Maqsood deserves a chance after being the player of the tournament but he has struggled in international games. Hafeez has been struggling for form lately with the bat which makes the middle order the biggest weakness for the team.
No Back-up Openers
The team management decided to drop Sharjeel Khan and Fakhar Zaman which leaves the squad without any backup opening option. Sharjeel failed to impress in the three international innings he played after making his comeback, scoring only 46 runs. Considering that he is a burden as a fielder and has fitness issues, it might be a fair call to drop him.
Fakhar is part of the reserve group but he has a poor record in UAE. He was beginning to find a role in the middle order; however, there was little evidence that he could be a long-term solution at 5 or 6. Muhammad Hafeez might have to fit into the role of an opener, in case, Babar or Rizwan is to miss out on any game.
Excluding Shoaib Malik
The 39-year old will be extremely disappointed in missing out from the squad. This was the last chance for Malik to represent Pakistan in a global event. Pakistan needed his experience and composure in the middle order.
Not only he is a better batsman than Asif, Khushdil, Azam, and Sohaib but also he is more mobile in the field and gives a part-time bowling option. His record in the UAE is impressive, scoring 450 at an average of 25 and a strike rate of 112.
Picking Azam over Sarfaraz
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 (Average: 30, Strike Rate: 121). Picking Azam Khan over Sarfaraz makes little sense as Azam has struggled against quality spin and failed to score runs in the UAE leg of PSL.
Sarfaraz would have been a better option as a backup wicketkeeper for Rizwan in comparison to Azam.
Usman Qadir in Reserves
The team management decided to drop Imad Wasim for the home series against South Africa and tours of Zimbabwe and South Africa, to give way to Usman Qadir. He could not capitalize on the opportunities and lost his spot because of some poor performance but whenever there was a chance, Qadir was picked ahead of Nawaz.
Qadir got off to an impressive start by picking up 12 wickets at 6.12 per over in his first six games in Pakistan. However, since then he seems to have lost his way, conceding 9.6 per over in his last five games.
He was a member of the PSL-winning Multan Sultan squad; however, he managed to play only four out of 12 games. In CPL he has also been axed from the starting XI which has not helped his cause.