Wednesday, February 10, 2016

ICC World T20 2016: Pakistan announces squad with 5 Rookies!

After seeking an extension of two days from the ICC, Pakistan finally announced their squad for the Asia Cup T20 and World T20, which will follow the ongoing Pakistan Super League.

The PSL gave the selectors a chance to judge some of the relatively lesser known cricketers, and also monitor the form of the some international players who had not impressed in recent times, namely Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Gul, Sohaib Maqsood, and Mohammad Rizwan.

The squad, sans the four players mentioned above, contains surprises aplenty. Here's a look at why these four were dropped and what their replacements - Babar Azam, Khurram Manzoor, Mohammad Nawaz, and Rumman Raees - have done to earn a call to the international T20 team.

OUT: Ahmed Shehzad
Afridi's blue eyed boy could not maintain his place in the side after a prolonged period of indifferent form. In his last 8 T20 innings against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, England, and New Zealand, he produced scores of 7, 17, 7, 28, 4, 16, 9, 8. To top that of, his form in ODIs during the same period was nothing to write home about.

His 71 off 46 deliveries against the Karachi Kings in the PSL might have nudged the selectors a bit; however his other 3 innings of 11, 16, and 15 would have further reduced his stock.

IN: Khurram Manzoor
He has never played a T20 International for Pakistan; however his domestic T20 record - an average of 29 and a strike rate of 116 - is quite impressive. He also boasts 2 centuries in the format, something not many other batsmen around the world can stake claim to. Despite this, his inclusion is a bit perplexing given that he was not picked by any of the PSL teams and he hasn't played a T20 match since September last year!

He did impress in the Haier Mobile T-20 Cup in September last year where he was the 4th highest run scorer in the competition, but there were other batsmen that were more impressive in that tournament; namely Faisal Mubashir, Fawad Alam, Khalid Latif, Kamran Akmal, Mukhtar Ahmed, Nasir Jamshed, and several others.

OUT: Sohaib Maqsood
With an average of 13 and a highest score of 37, Sohaib has always looked out of place in a T20 line up. It was surprising to see him in the squads for the series against England and New Zealand. He has been on the sidelines of his PSL team as well, so it is no surprise to see the axe finally fall on him.

IN: Babar Azam
It was high time that the selectors included him in the T20 squad. He has an outstanding domestic record in all formats of the game and he has had a supremely impressive start to his ODI career hitting 5 fifties in only 9 ODIs. An average of over 45 and and a strike rate of over 90 in ODIs suggest that he can translate that form into T20s easily. His domestic T20 average is over 40!

Definitely the right choice!

OUT: Mohammad Rizwan
He is a bit unlucky to miss out considering he hasn't had too many chances to impress. He has done reasonably well in the ODIs he has played; however he played only 4 of the 6 T20s he could have against England and New Zealand. Sure his scores of 6, 24, and 4 in those games were nothing great, but he just didn't get enough chances to prove himself. Even in the PSL he has had only 2 innings scoring 37 and 4. His domestic T20 record is awesome and he is a livewire in the field. Pakistan may have missed a trick by leaving him out of their squad.

IN: Mohammad Nawaz
He has been the find of the PSL. His left-arm spin has earned him the highest tally of wickets in the PSL thus far - 8 in 4 games at an average of 11! The best part about this is that he is primarily a batsman and he has been in fine form for the Quetta Gladiators. He will always be remembered as the find of the first ever PSL that was staged. For him, it came at just the right time. He deserves his place in the squad.

OUT: Umar Gul
He returned from injury after 8 months for the T20 series against New Zealand but failed to impress in the two matches that he played. His form in the PSL has also been indifferent - he has picked up 4 wickets at an average of 35 in the 4 matches that he has played and he has conceded 10 runs an over! It would have been extremely difficult to justify his inclusion in the squad no matter how good his past performances in T20.

IN: Rumman Raees
As if Pakistan did not have enough left arm pacers! It is interesting to see Rumman in the squad ahead of more seasoned campaigners like Gul and Junaid Khan. He has not set the PSL on fire, and he doesn't seem to have the pace to trouble international batsmen; however his impeccable line and length and intelligent variations make him a very economical bowler in T20s. His economy rate in the PSL is only 4.40 and that is what probably impressed the selectors.

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Who would have bet on Pakistan announcing a squad with as many as 5 rookies! Check out the odds on Betfred.

The reason I did not mention Iftikhar Ahmed above is because he has been in the T20 squad for the past few series without playing a game. He has had an outstanding domestic season and it would not have been justifiable to drop him without playing him.

I can understand the reasons to drop Shehzad and Gul, but I can't understand the reasons to select Khurram and Rumman. They latter two might be promising players, however a World Cup is not the place to test them. I probably would have stuck with Shehzad and Gul given their experience, but if they had to be replaced then their were better options like Mukhtar, Fawad, and Junaid out there.

Nawaz and Babar definitely deserve their call ups to the international T20 side and it would have been better had the selectors only opted for these two rookies.

There are as many as five players who have never played a T20 international for Pakistan in their World T20 squad, which makes it extremely inexperienced for a world event!

It is good that there will be an Asia Cup T20 just before the World T20 so Pakistan will get the time to figure out their best XI.

Make your pitch on this post...

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2 Pitched:

  1. Imran Awan said...

    we are waiting to watch this t20 cricket world cup 2016 live

  2. Andrew Mccollum said...

    Pakistan has announced has made a good decision in selection. Pakistan selecting committee has picked in some perfect players for this T20 world cup and asia cup. Inclusion of players such as mohammed Nawaz, Rumman Raees and babar Azam can give team the boost they want to win this cup. They can win this world cup with these players and live cricket scores will also be updated during the world cup.

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