PSL 2019

Pakistan – on the road towards ICC WorldCup 2019

With less than three months left in knocking th doors of ICC World Cup 2019, every team has started executing its final plans in regards to stepping in with the best combination in the much awaited mega event & so as Team Pakistan. Shaheens will be playing five match ODI series each against Australia in UAE & England at their home before entering into glorious event. A few warm up matches are also lined up which are fair enough matches for Pakistan to filter out their best possible squad for WorldCup 2019.

Talking about series against Australia, Pakistan has made rest to six of its main players as Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah & captain Sarfraz Ahmed. Meanwhile Selectors have opted to give chance to M.Abbas, Umar Akmal, Abid Ali, M.Hasnain, Yasir Shah & Saad Ali. Three players as Saad, Hasnain & Umar are those which were not in the pool of 25 players which were initially finalized for sake of WorldCup prior to PSL 2019. Paceman Wahab Riaz was earlier also in consideration for this tour but with M.Hasnain impressing every other individual, Selectors prefered a young kid instead experienced Wahab. Selectors will finalize same squad for WorldCup which’ll play five match ODI series v England with all experiments being made in upcoming series v Australia. Hence if Wahab is not considered for Aussie series, he is now out of the race from WorldCup squad.

It is also in news that Hasnain is only been picked to make him experience international cricket arena. With Shaheen Shah already confirmed as youngster in pace battery in WorldCup 2019 squad, M.Hasnain has least chances to make it into final 15 of Pakistan in mega event. Further it would have been better if M.Hasnain was considered for Pakistan Team post WorlCup. No offense to his superb recent efforts but considering him in plans after one PSL & for an event for which teams make preparations in four years is a bit too early. PCB could have sent Hasnain to NCA for improving skills & gain fitness under experienced coaches but most important here is experience of FirstClass which’ll ultimately mature him as a Bowler. An observation can be wrong but there is a little more work needed on the bowling action of M.Hasnain as it looks a little injury prone. As Hasnain releases the ball, his head is more of a banging downwards which may put stress on his back. No doubt a paceman clicking 150kph at 18 years of age is rare but still the talent must be taken care & should be brought into national team through a systematic way. An outstanding performance against Australia & a better one than other bowlers can only lead Hasnain to a ticket in WorldCup squad.

Coming onto M.Abbas who has been a new sensation of test cricket when comes to talk about taking wickets with an accurate line & length. As Abbas started off with match winning spells in test cricket, he was straight away compared with M.Asif who use to knock his opponents with the same accuracy of yards at medium pace. Keeping line & length as only strength, there is still doubt whether Abbas will be handy in limited overs format on English pitches which are expected to be flat & high scoring keeping entertaining factor of WorldCup alive. With an optimistic plan regarding Abbas, Selectors named him in pool-of-25 & are now ready to test him against Australia in UAE. Playing three T20s for Multan Sultans in recent PSL, Abbas took 5 wickets at an economy of 5.7. Further with english conditions favoring seam bowlers & Pakistan having major portion of pacemen who are more into generating pace, inclusion of Abbas as a variation will not be a bad idea for WorldCup. As per HeadCoach Mickey Arthur’s recent statement, Pakistan will be eying to pick 5 best Fast-Bowlers for WorldCup. Can Hasnain & Abbas make it to final 15 in the presence of Amir Hasan Faheem Shinwari Shaheen Junaid? Lets leave this question on fortune.

M.Rizwan & even Abid Ali can be considered as back up Wicket-Keeper for Sarfraz Ahmed now. Unfortunately Rizwan has so far unable to justify the position of back up Wicket-Keeper keeping his scores of SouthAfrica & PSL in mind. Rizwan looked a bit uncomfortable in play spin against Proteas & was out of slogging in PSL for which he was benched by franchise Karachi Kings. However since Rizwan had impressive scores for recent Pakistan-A series against NewZealand-A & England Lions, him being second to Sarfraz looks good on paper but he still need to prove with the bat. At the same time, Abid Ali who also scored bundle of runs for Pakistan-A on the same tour followed by a first-class century in the final of quaid-e-azam trophy, is also one contender in WorldCup squad. Moreover calling Abid a contender as a WicketKeeper batsman second to Sarfraz Ahmed will most probably make Rizwan pull up his socks in series against Australia. Cricket circuit has been talking about Abid Ali since Pakistan-A tour. Not watching him in PSL was a disappointment but upcoming series is a golden chance for Abid to cement his place. As per situation, it seems one of either Rizwan or Abid will make it in WorldCup squad. Who’s your pick?

Umar Akmal is the most awaited batsman to watch out in upcoming series. Considering Pakistan is lacking a number six batsman who is capabile enough to play death overs with a quick fire run-rate but at the same time also is reliable, Umar Akmal is one strong contender for a spot in WorldCup squad. Selectors tried their utmost to make Asif Ali settle in ODI team but Asif was unable to perform upto the mark for which later he faced a drop. In a T20 format, one may consider number six batsman to play last two three overs but in an ODI, a situation may arrive where even number six batsman has to fullfill responsibility to building an innings. This is where Asif lacked. Hussain Talat was also tried in top order but since Babar Malik Hafeez Sarfraz, all have a similar sort of gameplay of getting onto crease & taking some time to settle, hence Hussain does not fits in such XI. After convincing, Selectors & specially Mickey Arthur regarding fitness, discipline & performance in PSL, now for Umar, all he needs to do is score well at number six where he’s expected to play against Australia. Umar has plenty of experience playing ODI’s against Kangaroos where he scored at 34.7 avg in 18 ODI’s with three fifties.

Saad Ali is reckoned as one technically sound batsman in current domestic who at the age of 25 has a healthy domestic experience. In 2017/18 first-class season, Saad was highest scorer with 957 runs at 68.3 avg with 3 centuries & fifties each. Moreover these runs were scored against Dukes on a green top & this was the same season, where mass complains were received regarding poor domestic low scoring pitches. Since than Saad remained at national circuit where he was picked in test team but dropped without a debut. In terms of anchoring an innings & a left handed batsman in mid order, Saad Ali can be one best option for Selectors to hang with. The ball is now in the court of Karachi-ite & the fans supporting him through out this span are eager to watch him display his art of batting in the desert.

Imad Wasim & Shadab Khan are dead confirmed with a guaranteed spot in WorldCup squad. However recently an insight came that Selectors are also keeping an option of taking two Leg-Spinners in WorldCup squad. Now incase Yasir Shah performed against Australia & England where than Selectors opted second option, either Imad Wasim will be dropped or a Fast-Bowler. However so far Yasir has not been impressive in limited overs cricket where even in PSL 2019, he was bowling more of a quick balls rather than concentrating on flighted leg spin. Similar to what plan Fawad Ahmed of Australia went succesful with in PSL. In the meantime, will it be smart to drop Imad who is good with the new ball & can do finishing role for Pakistan in the tail as well or taking three spinners in England will be a wise option? Well.. its better Selectors stick to Shadab & Imad with Hafeez to bowl few overs in WorldCup.

Fakhar Zaman & Imam-ul-Haq are automatic choice openers in WorldCup but for an event which will be played on league system, third opener is also vital. Shan Masood will be given a complete chance to play as an opener against Australia. Shan took a flight after he scored massive runs in domestic season 2017/18 where he scored 642 runs at 158.0 avg in 9 LA games. The stats that Shan having third highest List-A batting average 56.5 of all time where he’s just behind the two greats of limited overs cricket V.Kohli & M.Bevan also justifies his spot in ODI squad of Pakistan.

Talking about other squad members, Junaid Khan has rasied some questions over his fitness in recent times. He had a fair enough BPL but could not deliver in PSL. Similarly Usman Shinwari has been very much into leaking runs in PSL. He has pace but the consistency of bowling at good line & length will be key for him to bowl better & convince Selectors for WorldCup spot. Haris Sohail will be making a comeback in national side after completing rehab of knee injury. Amir has been economical but wicket taking ability with the new ball is what he has to revive prior to WorldCup. Imam with surprising performances in ODI & PSL has given a perfect answer to his critics & hopefully he’ll carry same momentum till WorldCup aswell.

There may be inconsistency in Pakistan batting but the optimistic factor is that the pace unit of Pakistan has vast options from where Selectors can pick fantastic five. All eyes upon next ten days as by the end of March 2019, Pakistan will be able to get a clear view of best fifteen men who’ll represent 22 crore crazy cricket fans in ICC WorldCup 2019.