Ignoring Wasim Jr a big mistake

May 5, 2024

The misfiring Hasan Ali is not going to be a good choice for the T20 World Cup

Ignoring Wasim Jr a big mistake

Pakistan on Thursday announced its 18-member squad for the three-match Ireland and four-match England series to be held this month.

Pakistan will leave for Ireland on May 7 after a short camp.

This is the final stage of preparation for the ICC T20 World Cup to be hosted by the US and West Indies in June.

Pakistan failed to deliver in the home series against New Zealand recently which ended in a 2-2 draw after the first game had been washed out due to rain in Pindi.

Pakistan management and selectors claim that they opted for rotation during the series in order to test the bench strength. They even claim that this is the first time that a rotation policy was adopted as in the past Pakistan used to play their top team even against the weaker oppositions.

Leggie Usama Mir and pacer Zaman Khan, who were part of the New Zealand series, have been omitted and it would be shocking news for both of them. Usama Mir had topped the PSL and Zaman, no doubt, has been a prolific fast bowler and bowls with his heart.

The country’s senior stumper Mohammad Rizwan, Azam Khan, Mohammad Irfan Khan Niazi and Haris Rauf are back in the side and so is Agha Salman, which is a right decision from the selectors as he has established himself as a useful player. According to the selectors the unfit players have made significant improvement as far as their fitness is concerned. Rizwan and Irfan missed the last two games against New Zealand due to fitness issues and Azam and Haris missed the entire series.

Quite interestingly ace bowler Hasan Ali has been named as a back-up for Haris Rauf. If Haris regains his fitness then he will be the first choice in the series and if he is not match-fit then Hasan Ali will be played. Hasan played his last T20 game way back in 2022.

I don’t think Hasan was the best choice. Mohammad Wasim Junior could have been the best option as a back-up bowler for Haris. The cricket authorities are wasting this bowler who bowls with great accuracy and is now maturer. He should have been the frontline bowler and he is such a smart boy that if you give him confidence he can turn out to be the most impressive.

The management backs some players despite their below-par performance. Both Saim Ayub and Usman Khan failed to deliver against New Zealand but the duo are part of the selectors’ plan and have been named in the 18-man touring party for the Ireland and England series.

Usama was dropped as selectors did not want to have multiple players of the same category in the team and according to them Shadab Khan is there.

They have put in a mystery spinner in the shape of Abrar Ahmed.

Selectors also discussed the selection matters with the newly-hired head coach Gary Kirsten who will handle Pakistan whiteball team for two years.

Kirsten will join the team on England tour. Pakistan team is facing injuries and it is not yet clear what will be the combination for the World Cup. Pakistan is expected to announce its 15-member World Cup squad after the May 22 game against England.

Ignoring Wasim Jr a big mistake

It appears that Babar Azam and Saim Ayub will open the innings as usual with Mohammad Rizwan to bat at No3. The selectors have given many chances to Usman Khan to prove himself. They are happy that following failures in initial two matches Usman showed some intent in the fourth game and then made a useful contribution with the bat in the fifth and final game.

Pakistan has been facing issues in the middle overs and in the series against New Zealand it was evident once again.

Former Test cricketer and national selector Mohammad Yousuf has said that their batsmen don’t opt to play a handful of shots like sweep which are very important if they are to score fluently in T20 cricket. Let’s see how the management brings improvement in the batting zone, especially in the middle overs where we normally don’t give our best. Even in the last T20 game against New Zealand at Lahore Pakistani batsmen scored just 33 runs from 11 to 15 overs despite taking a solid start.

So we will need to improve these things if we are to put a good total on the board in the World Cup.

In the West Indies wickets and conditions are well-known to most of our players as most of them also play the league there but the US conditions are unknown to most of the lot. The other day I talked to US-based former Pakistan first-class cricketer Jannisar Khan and he gave an update about the conditions in the US, especially Dallas where Pakistan will open their journey in the World Cup against US on June 6.

He said that at Dallas it would be difficult to survive the new ball and the ball also gets seam there and technically strong batsmen would be able to play a solid role in such conditions.

Mostly drop-in pitches will be on offer in the World Cup in the US. Ten pitches have already reached New York from Florida and an Australian curator is set to install them. The curator has said that the pitches will be hard, will have pace and bounce, and batsmen will get chances to play their strokes.

In New York, Pakistan will face India on June 9 and Canada on June 11.

Lauderhill, where Pakistan will meet Ireland on June 16, is the only US state which is tropical and similar to the Caribbean and it is expected that conditions there will be tricky.

In the West Indies wickets are tricky with uneven bounce and also offer break. These days we see big scores in the IPL but in the World Cup it could only be a desire of the teams to score big. I think batsmen at times could struggle in the US conditions.

Yousuf said on Thursday at the news conference that Pakistan is ready to play in any sort of conditions.

He said that it’s not easy to assess conditions unless you land in that zone. He said that he used to know about the behaviour of the pitch after he would play a couple of balls.

Pakistan should not make further experiments in Ireland but should provide ample chances to those resources who would be part of the World Cup.

Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Saim Ayub, Usman Khan, Azam Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Muhammad Irfan Khan, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Abrar Ahmed


Ignoring Wasim Jr a big mistake