This was arguably the most eventful September 6 for Pakistan since 1965 as plenty happened in the cricketing world.
First, the national chief selector Muhammad Wasim announced Pakistan’s squad for T20 World Cup 2021. Merely an hour later, Misbah-ul-Haq and the Waqar Younis gave up their coaching roles.
The only spoiler was India winning the Test match against at Oval (pun intended.)
The squad announced by the so-called ‘data-driven selector is one of the weakest squads Pakistan have ever entered a major ICC tournament with. This lacks experience in the bowling department, as well as in the middle order, crucial for pitches of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where the T20 World Cup 2021 is to be played.
The squad announcement attracted a backlash from across the country as cricket lovers were neither happy with the exclusions nor with the inclusion of many ‘undeserving (allow me to be harsh) players. Had it been a squad for any bilateral series, the situation would have been different, but it is for the World Cup, hence the bashing.
The squad misses out on very experienced batters in the middle order; Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik, as well as seasoned bowlers like Wahab Riaz, and Faheem Ashraf.
Players picked in their stead are Asif, Khushdil, and Haris Rauf. Let’s take a look at their stats in the shortest format.
Asif, who according to the chief selector has been picked for a specific role, which is power-hitting, has failed to produce one match-winning inning in his entire career. The so-called power hitter has batted with a strike rate of 123 throughout his career and has no T20i fifty in 29 international appearances for Pakistan.
His last 13 innings are 1, 5, 7, 4, 11, 1, 29, 6, 3, 25, 2, 13, 2* with an average of 9.08 and strike rate of 99.9 scorings just 109 runs in total which isn’t quite remarkable to be selected for the upcoming World Cup. His records in the UAE are even worse. The 29-year-old only managed to score 79 runs in 6 T20is he played in the gulf country in 2018 with the best score of 38.
Khushdil, on the other hand, has slightly better records when compared to Asif, but he stands no chance against Malik, who could as well be a very handy option with the ball and a gun field in the deep.
With all his potential and abilities, Kushdil Shah has also failed to impress in the T20 format so far. In the 9 T20 matches, he has scored 15, 12, 13, 14, 16, 36, 11, 5, and 8 with an average of 21.66 and a strike rate of 109.24. While his stats don’t merit a selection in the club level side, he has somehow been drafted in the final 15 for the T20 World Cup.
Another problem with the squad is that it lacks the third opener. Lest the team loses any of the permanent ones, Babar and Rizwan, to an injury, there will be no one to fill in and the team’s balance will be disturbed.
Sharjeel could have been a decent choice for this position. His 338 runs in 11 matches for Karachi Kings in the last edition of the PSL which also includes a Ton pretty much challenges his position in the squad.
As for a bowling all-rounder, who is better than Faheem Ashraf? He has been a regular with the team in the recent past and has performed both with the ball and the bat against all big sides, including England and South Africa.
Faheem’s bowling figures in the UAE make his case even stronger. The right-arm fast averages 12.75 in the gulf country with an economy of 5.10, and striking at 15 – all against top sides. Instead, the selectors have preferred young Muhammad Wasim Jr. over him. While Wasim is a good prospect for the future, he is probably not as suitable for the big stage as is Faheem.
Pakistan’s squad for 2021 World Cup T20
The Squad consist of Babar Azam (C), Muhammad Rizwan(wk), Asif Ali ,Azam Khan, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Kushdil Shah, Muhammad Hafeez, Muhammad Hasnain, Muhammad Wasim Jnr, Muhammad Nawaz, Shahdab Khan (VC), Shaheen Shah Afridi and Sohaib Maqsood.