When it comes to World Cup squads, the prospects of fans in Pakistan are often more interesting than elsewhere. Even today you will always find lists with the names of Imran Nazir or Shahid Afridi. For the selectors – now led by Inzamam-ul-Haq – the completion of the squad is often a thankless task, as it is impossible to meet the wishes of 200 million people.
And it’s not just the fans – surely, as the night follows the day, a former player is broadcast on the day the squad is announced and complains of nepotism or carelessness, often both.
However, Inzamam and Co. have legitimate issues to consider before deciding on the 15 and reaching this press conference. So no list of your own, but here are some of these factors.
Undoubtedly the best problem Pakistan has. There are so many candidates to choose from. Probably Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali are guaranteed their seats, but Pakistan will have to select two more among Usman Shinwari, Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain and Mohammad Amir. That’s pretty embarrassing for the wealth.
The last name there – Amir – would not even be in dispute if another bowler had his numbers in the last two years. Since the Champions Trophy final in June 2017, Amir has brought five ODI gates in 101 surplus bowling for an average price of 92.60 per wicket. Not surprisingly, this is the worst thing for all bowlers who have made over 600 balls in that time.
The worst specialist of the fast bowler on this list is Mark Wood with 20 wickets at 47.75, almost twice as good as Amir.
What Amir has for him is a saving rate of 4.58 for the same period; His career economics is 4.78. It is noteworthy that among the fast bowlers of the World Cup teams only Jasprit Bumrah (4.30) was more economical in the last two years.
Admittedly, Amir’s switch from the Tearaway quick coupler to a bowler who keeps the runflow in check was sharp. But regardless of whether Pakistan can afford to overlook the 27-year-old left pacemaker, what he did when he last played an ODI in England?
Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq will open the first choice. Well, and this is by no means an Achilles heel for the team, but Fakhar’s recent loss of form has been utterly inopportune and inopportune. Since the Zimbabwe series last August, the runs have not flowed so freely off the left-handed blade, 377 at an average of 29.
That’s a career average of 53.4. Good enough, you could say; he hits aggressively, so a lean run is always around the corner. That’s true, but in that time he has reached a hit rate of 83 for ODIs. Before this spell, it was 102.
Which brings us to the reserve reopener. Abid Ali emerged from nowhere as a serious contender, especially as Shan Masood did not help himself in the series against Australia. However, while Abid’s domestic record leaves little room for debate, Inzamam & Co. will need to think about whether taking an international innings is a punt to left field.
Take him. There is little doubt that Pakistan will do so. It is the only legitimate option that Pakistan makes when it comes to power. So it’s that easy. It’s more of a question of how Asif Ali is used.
He beat 6th in the Asia Cup; Even Mickey Arthur admitted that Pakistan shook it to the ground by sending it too high. The coaches believe Asif is too one-dimensional to beat higher, suggesting # 7. However, this makes it harder to put Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim in the side.
If one of them beats Asif, the problem of a reliable # 6 is still not resolved (Shadab could do it in the long run, but the World Cup is too immediate for such a test). This means that the season of Asif can go at the expense of an all-rounder.
In any case, Asif has not really prevailed in the format. A star series against Zimbabwe was followed by low results in the Asian Cup and beyond, but the sample size is just not big enough to label them.
Perhaps the trickiest question Pakistan faces is whether or not it wants to take its most experienced player for a Swansang to the World Cup.
A few months ago, when Sarfraz Ahmed struggled, there were rumors that Shoaib Malik could lead the team at the tournament. A defeat of the T20I series against South Africa, a clear turnaround in Australia and a weak campaign against Multan Sultans at PSL have put this idea firmly in the head.
Should he even go to the tournament, especially if Mohammad Hafeez looks like he’s recovering on time? Malik is no longer a realistic bowling option and has a miserable ODI record in the UK of 13.6 with the bat in 23 innings. For the last two years, he has struggled to serve as the starting point for Pakistan in 5th place, Malik’s most common hit position at the time.
His batting average of 82.11 during this period is almost identical to his career number. In addition, he has fallen into the habit of starting again and get out again: in ten of his last 11 ODI innings the 37-year-old was released between 10 and 31 years.
Nevertheless, it would be a courageous call to exclude him. No other player in the tournament will be able to boast a career that began in the previous century, and his relaxed demeanor is unlikely to be a heavy, unwanted presence in the locker room of Pakistan.
In any case, Pakistan has a habit of ending the players’ careers shortly after the World Cup, and not just recently. That’s why Malik has history on his side.