Pace will be Pakistan’s strength in World Cup

by Rex Clementine

Pakistan may not be one of the fancied sides to win the ICC T-20 World Cup in Australia this year but they are certainly a feared side who can be ruthless and unforgiving when you least expect.

In the 1992 World Cup, with all hopes lost, Pakistan captain Imran Khan promised to fight like cornered tigers and fighting they did going onto win their first World Cup beating New Zealand  in the semis and England in the finals. Their two opponents in the last stages were the two in form teams, but that counted for little against a side that started believing in themselves.

There was a similar scenario 17 years later when they won the T-20 World Cup finals at Lord’s in 2009 for the first time. Since then, they are yet to win the title. They were cruising in the last edition having beaten arch-rivals India by ten wickets in Dubai but suffered a shock defeat at the hands of eventual champions Australia.

Pakistan will be overjoyed that Shaheen Afridi is fit. His pace is unsettling for most batsmen. Pace can also go for runs but with Afridi loose balls are few and rare as he’s on the money always. Backing up him will be fast bowlers Naseem Shah and Harris Rauf. We have seen what leg-spin of Shadab Khan can do. His stocks have risen remarkably in the last couple of years and now he’s the vice-captain of the side.

Shadab is not the only leg-spinner in the side. There’s a certain Usman Qadir too. If the name sounds familiar, he’s the son of the legendary leggie Abdul Qadir. His action is a carbon copy of his late father.

The last time Pakistan won an ICC event was in 2017 when they secured the Champions Trophy at The Oval. The man who played the key role on that occasion was Fakhar Zaman, who is not picked in the original squad but will still travel to Australia as one of the reserves.

It is true that Fakhar’s form has been great. He’s also nursing a knee injury and if not for that, he would have still got picked in the main squad despite his poor form given the devastation he could do in a matter of couple of overs. Changes can be made to the World Cup squad until October 15th and it remains to be seen whether Fakhar gets in if he fixes his knee.

Pakistan’s top order is quite strong with Mohammad Rizwan opening the batting with captain Babar Azam. Their middle order is fragile and now that there’s no Shoaib Malik as well, it won’t be a bad idea to have some experience in the form of Fakhar.

Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Usman Qadir.

Standby Players: Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Haris, Shahnawaz Dahani.