Pakistan Squad Overview: ODIs vs. New Zealand

Chief Selector Mohammad Wasim has announced a 20-man squad for the upcoming three ODIs against the Black Caps.

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The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced Pakistan’s ODI squad for the home series against New Zealand on the 1st of September on their website and social media pages. The Chief Selector Mohammad Wasim explained the thinking behind squad selection in a seven-minute-long video rather than a PowerPoint presentation containing graphs and tables. Commenting on the squad, he mentioned that, “While we have tried to put together a formidable and a balanced unit, we have continued to ensure that we give opportunities to high performing players while looking into the future so that we can develop strong bench strength.”

Squad

Batting

Unsurprisingly, the team is led by Babar Azam, who is also the regular number 3 batsmen in the side. Mohammad Rizwan will be the first-choice wicket-keeper, while the young Mohammad Haris has been added as his backup. Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq will most probably open the innings for Pakistan. Abdullah Shafique is the other opener beside them in the squad.

Saud Shakeel, who made his ODI debut in the England tour, has been retained. The major inclusions in the batting unit are Iftikhar Ahmed and Khushdil Shah, both making their return to Pakistan’s ODI squad. Pakistan will hope to solve their middle-order (particularly #5 & #6) problem with these two. Pakistan’s batsmen have averaged below 15 at a strike rate of 68 at these two positions in the last three series.

A good thing for the Pakistani batting unit is the presence of a lot of all-rounders and bowlers who can score a few runs. The presence of players like Mohammad Wasim Jr., Faheem Ashraf, and Hasan Ali can get the team some quick runs in the final overs.

Bowling

The squad consists of seven pace-bowling options and almost the same number of spinners (including the part-timers). With the presence of Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir, and Zahid Mahmood, Pakistan could play a different wrist-spinner in each of three games in the series. These leg-spinners will be accompanied by Mohammad Nawaz and other finger-spin options like Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, and Saud Shakeel.

In the pace-attack, Pakistan might try new faces like Wasim Jr. and Shahnawaz Dahani. This will be possible if the team benches either Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Faheem Ashraf, who have played the most matches for Pakistan in ODIs since last year. Hasan Ali, who has not made as impressive a comeback in ODIs as in the other formats, and Mohammad Hasnain, who has got fewer chances recently but done well, are also present in the squad.

Inclusions

The six inclusions in the squad are Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Wasim Jr., Zahid Mahmood, and Shahnawaz Dahani. The last four of them have not represented Pakistan in the ODIs.

Haris is among the batsmen with the best record for Pakistan U-19 in the Youth ODIs. He averaged 50+ for Pakistan U-19, scoring more than run a ball. Haris performed quite similarly in the last Pakistan Cup, scoring a century and two half-centuries in 8 innings with a strike rate of 103. An added benefit of him is his ability to keep the wickets.

Zahid Mahmood, the 33-year-old leg-spinner from Dadu, does not have as much experience in List A cricket as other cricketers of his age but has done well in the 33 matches he has played. He finished as the bowler with 2nd most wickets in Pakistan Cup 2021.

Pakistan Cup 2021

 

Wkts

Avg

Econ

SR

Zahid Mahmood

19

24.9

4.7

31.5

Usman Qadir

17

26.2

6.1

25.7

All Spinners

201

39.0

5.5

42.2

The other two inclusions in the squad got hype after their performances in the sixth edition of the Pakistan Super League. Wasim Jr. has a very good record for Pakistan U-19 with the ball. He has taken 15 wickets (@ 21.7) with an economy of 4.3 in the Youth ODIs. Wasim can also play quick cameos with the bat as he did in the last Pakistan Cup. He had a strike rate above 110 in the tournament, which was the best for his side (min 100 runs). Dahani, although he hasn’t done well in the few List A matches he has played, can prove to be beneficial with his pace and energy.

Exclusions

Sarfaraz Ahmed, who remained in the squad as a backup wicket-keeper in the last three series, has been removed this time. He played one of the nine games his team played in these series. Salman Ali Agha has also been excluded from the squad. He was yet to make his debut for Pakistan. Another excluded player Sohaib Maqsood played an ODI for Pakistan after more than five years in the England series. He scored 46 runs in three innings in the series, failing to retain his spot in the squad.

Haris Sohail was removed from the ODI squad for the England tour after an injury. While Haris has not played ODI cricket consistently for Pakistan, he has scored runs in them very consistently. He could not retain a place in the squad this time in the home series against New Zealand. Haider Ali, who didn’t go to England after a bio-bubble breach during PSL, also missed out on selection for this series.

Possible XI

  1. Fakhar Zaman
  2. Imam-ul-Haq
  3. Babar Azam (C)
  4. Mohammad Rizwan (wk)
  5. Iftikhar Ahmed
  6. Khushdil Shah
  7. Shadab Khan
  8. Faheem Ashraf
  9. Hasan Ali
  10. Mohammad Wasim
  11. Shaheen Shah Afridi

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