T20 World Cup 2021 is slated to be held in India, where a rampant second wave of the COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc. Due to the prevailing circumstances, dark clouds are looming over the fate of the upcoming ICC event. Meanwhile, the teams are bound to start preparations for the major event despite having no confirmation about it.
While England, India, New Zealand and Australia are among the toughest contenders for the trophy, Babar Azam-led Pakistan also stand a chance given the way they have been performing in the shortest format.
Sensing the need of the hour, Pakistan have kept themselves busy playing international cricket and testing their players ahead of World Cup. They have played two T20I series in the last 2 months and won both of them. They defeated Zimbabwe 2-1 and registered 3-1 victory over South Africa. After the series, they stand at 4th spot in the T20I rankings.
Though Pakistan are slated to play 3 more T20Is before the T20 World Cup, let's have a look at the players who could make it to the T20I squad for the mega event —
Top Order— Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman
Captain Babar Azam will be the obvious name on the sheet. Along with him, we could see Mohammad Rizwan. Babar is recognised for his consistent performances in world cricket while Rizwan has caught the eyes of the spectators in his last two series. He scored 186 runs against Zimbabwe in 3 games.
At number 3, we could see Fakhar Zaman batting; although he has been out of team recently, he has time to show his class before the mega event. Pakistan's top-order is their main strength in batting.
Middle-Order— Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Haider Ali, Faheem Ashraf
Mohammad Hafeez should come at number 4 as he has played over 100 T20I matches and can hit sixes whenever needed. Hafeez is also a terrific powerplay bowler and can put any batsman in trouble with his off-break.
Another player with immense experience is Shoaib Malik. He can provide reliability in middle-order and chip in with some overs. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Haider Ali is a player who has made his case for the selection with good performances.
In addition to the three, Faheem Ashraf, a bowling all-rounder, can take wickets at critical junctures in the game and can also score some runs, that too with his hard-hitting ability. He took 7 wickets in 3 games against South Africa.
Bowlers— Shaheen Afridi, Usman Qadir, Hasan Ali, Arshad Iqbal
In the bowling department, Pakistan are the team with abundance of talent. They have produced some outstanding bowlers in the past and have kept their legacy intact so far. During the T20 championship, the Green Brigade's bowling attack should be led by Hasan Ali, who is having a great year. The fast bowler took 7 wickets in 4 match series against South Africa and 4 in one match against Zimbabwe.
Another young prospect who will definitely make the cut is Shaheen Afridi. The lad possesses immense raw talent at just 21 years of age. Meanwhile, Arshad Iqbal is also an exciting young fast bowler to impress the selectors.
In the spin division, Pakistan's attack will be led by Usman Qadir, who bowls leg-break. Usman has taken 18 wickets in 11 T20I games at an average of 15.22.
Pakistan's Probable 15 for T20 World Cup:
Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Sharjeel Khan, Danish Aziz, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Haider Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Usman Qadir, Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Arshad Iqbal