It’s a golden chance for Muhammad Haris and Saim Ayub to press their cases for permanent places in the national team
This may change the situation for the Pakistan team, as Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Fakhar Zaman have been rested for this series. Shadab Khan is going to lead Pakistan.
The national selection committee has given opportunity to young players like Azam Khan, Ihsanullah, Saim Ayub Zaman khan and Tayyab Tahir.
Pakistan have at least eight T20Is in 2023 and 11 in 2024 prior to ICC T20 World Cup 2024. It sounds like a lot of games to prove your worth. The most expected thing to see will be Pakistan with a new opening duo as Babar and Rizwan have been rested for the series. Who will it be? Sami Ayub and Muhammad Haris seems to be the answer. Both looked promising in PSL8, especially Saim Ayub who just showed his talent in PSL8. If he succeeds in international cricket, he might be a permanent choice as an opener. On the other hand, Muhammad Harris has already played as an opener a few times for Pakistan and performed well. Both have got a great ability to play with a great strike rate. What you could expect is definitely a tough competition among openers in the future.
There has been a long debate about the strike rate of Pakistan openers in T20Is. This is an issue where I think the primary concern would be that Pakistan currently has the most established openers in Babar and Rizwan. Both are the best in the world and are among the top three batters in the world.
When it comes to the middle order there is always a lot of room in that. We have tried many in the past and soon are going to try more in the series. This gives a great chance to the young Azam Khan who has shown his talent as a batter and striker in T20 leagues. Azam’s fitness has always come into question, but his match-winning ability has given him this chance. What if Azam performs? The selectors are going to adjust Azam and Rizwan together and we will know the outcomes soon, but once thing is for sure: Azam will be a player to watch.
The captain of the Karachi kings, Imad Wasim, looked in top form in the PSL8 with his batting performance and is set for his comeback after a couple of years. If you see his international statistics as an all-rounder, you always wonder why was he even out of the team? With another all-rounder in Muhammad Nawaz, you could expect three spinners playing in the UAE conditions (Shadab, Nawaz and Imad).
Except Shaheen, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf, Pakistan has still open windows in the fast bowling department, where they have tested many genuine fast bowlers in past in the shape of Shahnawaz Dahani, Mohammad Hasnain, Hasan Ali but none could cement their place in the team. One can debate and say there is still room in that for one weapon fast bowler.
Since Shaheen and Haris have been rested for the series it looks like Naseem will be heading the bowling department while youngster Ihsanullah will also get his chance after a successful PSL8 where he impressed all by taking wickets and clicking over 150km/h various times. He definitely will be a weapon for the Pakistan cricket team in the near future!
While giving opportunity to the newcomers, Pakistan will be aiming to win the series too but this current series of Afghanistan will be a tough series for Pakistan as Afghanistan are pretty decent in this format with best spinning attack in the world. Secondly, they will be playing in conditions which suit them.
– The writer is a former Pakistan U-19 and A Team captain