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Five players Pakistan could consider adding to their T20 World Cup squad


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While all 16 teams have already announced their squads for the T20 World Cup to begin from October 17 – they can still make changes to the same till October 10. Divy Tripathi looks at the players outside the initial list who can strengthen Pakistan’s T20 World Cup campaign.


Pakistan’s squad was originally slated to prepare for the upcoming T20 World Cup with home series against New Zealand and England. Unfortunately, these tours got cancelled, and the players missed out on some international games to prepare for the T20 World Cup.

The silver lining of this development was that they could participate in the competitive National T20 cup. Players like Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, and Shaheen Shah Afridi have gotten much-needed match practice through this tournament. On the other hand, it has also raised questions on some of the present squad members, while some players, who didn’t make it to the final 15, have impressed with their game.

Here are the players who can be added to the Pakistan squad, should the selectors decide that the team can do well with some changes:

Strong contenders

Shoaib Malik

Malik’s absence from the Pakistan T20 World Cup squad hardly came as a surprise to anyone, given that he hadn’t represented the side since the England T20I series in 2020. However, Malik has left no stone unturned in showing that he is still fit and ready to play cricket for Pakistan. A few months back, he had let known of his ambitions to play in the T20 World Cup this year.

He was the fourth-highest run-getter in the PSL 2021, with 349 runs at a strike-rate of 149.36. While he had a forgettable season in the CPL, he has shown great form in the National T20 Cup. He has struck 180 runs at a strike-rate of 159.29 and has only been dismissed once. His stupendous 85 helped Central Punjab crush Sindh in the competition.

Playing in the same team as Babar Azam, he has impressed one and all with his run-churning ability, even at 39. His fitness has never been in question, and he can be an asset in the bowling department as well. He has pretty much made the best case a player can make for himself, and it remains to be seen if Pakistan cricket thinks the same.

Fakhar Zaman

Fakhar Zaman is one of the reserves travelling with the squad, ready to serve the side’s need should any injury arise. But Pakistan might’ve missed a trick by not selecting Zaman in the squad in the first place. He is an out-and-out hitter, something which reflects in his T20I and ODI records.

Pakistan’s first double centurion in the limited-overs format can be of great use in the T20 World Cup. For those who prefer strict compartmentalisation between T20Is and ODIs, he has shown good form for Pakistan in the last few T20Is he has played. These included a 34-ball 60 against South Africa at Centurion, and an 8-ball 26 against England at Nottingham this year.

He also scored 281 runs in the PSL, albeit at a watchful strike-rate of 121.09. While an injury meant that his participation in the National T20 Cup has been restricted, Zaman’s USP is that he can turn any game around quickly and can shuffle between the top and the middle-order should the need arise. This could be useful given the recent poor form of squad members like Azam Khan and Khushdil Shah.

Dark horses

Sharjeel Khan

Sharjeel’s case has been a curious one. First, he was brought back, seemingly out of the blue, at the insistence of the captain, and then later dropped from the Pakistan squad for the World Cup, despite appearing in their last T20I series against the West Indies.

Unlike some other teams, Pakistan haven’t taken many top-order options in their squad. While Babar and Rizwan will be an important force at the top, they could’ve done well by keeping a strong back-up like Sharjeel.

In fact, in the last few months, Pakistan cricket had been using this very tact, combining Babar and Rizwan with an option like Sharjeel or Fakhar to see what works the best for them. For his own part, Sharjeel has been in top form, being the third-highest run-getter in the National T20 Cup at a healthy strike-rate of 147.22 (more than Babar or Rizwan), and 338 runs in the PSL 2021 at 148.24.

Wahab Riaz

Age is an important factor in the selection of any fast bowler, but it seems that Wahab Riaz is only improving as he gets older. He has been at his best in the National T20 Cup at an impressive economy rate.

It is also not a one-off, he was the second-highest wicket-taker in the PSL 2021, with 18 wickets at an average of 23.44. While many might believe that Wahab’s best days are behind him, the fast bowler has shown enough spark to make it back into the Pakistan side.

T20 is a format where fleeting moments of brilliance can change the course of the innings. Everyone remembers Wahab’s legendary face-off against Shane Watson in the 2015 ODI World Cup. Imagine the kind of damage which he can inflict with a four-over spell in a similar mould.

Outside bets

Shahnawaz Dahani

Another reserve travelling with the squad, Dahani has several factors going in his favour. A recent debutant in the format, he was in the news during the PSL 2021, not only for his unique celebration style, but also his bowling, which the batters found tough to read.

He was the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 20 wickets at an average of 17. He has continued his good form for Sindh in the National T20 Cup with 9 wickets at an average of 16.77.

Pakistan have an opportunity to add him to their squad and unleash him before international sides including arch-rivals India, who have no experience of playing Dahani. It’s not like this hasn’t been done in the past, with Sohail Tanvir acting as the element of surprise against India during the 2007 T20 World Cup group encounter between the two sides.

*All stats are updated till October 6, 2021.

The post Five players Pakistan could consider adding to their T20 World Cup squad appeared first on Wisden.

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