‘T20 World Cup ultimate test for Pakistan’

February 21, 2016

Former Pakistan chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu tells TNS that senior players need to deliver in India

Pakistan squad for the Asia Cup and the World T20 is a balanced one with a good mix of youngsters and experienced players, but they will have to display application to tame the high class opposition in the two big events, former Test cricketer and ex-chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu told ‘The News on Sunday’.

Analysing the strengths and the weaknesses of the Pakistan team, Sallu said that it was good to see the induction of players like Mohammad Nawaz, Ruman Raees, Babar Azam, Iftikhar Ahmed and Khurram Manzoor, but it was also a fact that all these players would be featuring in such major T20 events for the first time.

"All these players are talented and that is why they have been selected, but how they take pressure in such big events will be the key," said Sallu.

"Of course, they will have the advantage of seniors like captain Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik guiding them which will boost their confidence," he said.

Commenting on Pakistan’s tough group in World T20 in India, Sallu said: "With formidable teams like hosts India, England, West Indies, South Africa and Sri Lanka in our pool, it won’t be easy for us. Plus the pressure of playing in India itself can play on the players’ minds," he said.

The former selector added that no one of the opposing teams could be taken lightly, not even Sri Lanka and the West Indies. "They are showing signs of resurgence. The recent U-19 World Cup win showed that the West Indies are recovering and Sri Lanka also have some new players who can be surprise packets in T20 format," he observed.

Sallu added that both India and England are currently on top of their game and will be the toughest of opponents in World T20. "India and England have won so many limited overs games recently. Pakistan must bear that in mind," he said. "England have a fine all-round combination, while India have a potent spin attack coupled with powerful batting line-up," he said.

Coming back to the Pakistan selection, Sallu said while the fast bowling looked good with Wahab Riaz, Mohmmaad Amir, Mohammad Irfan and Anwar Ali, the spin department looked somewhat weak. "It is not an ideal spin attack with Afridi, Nawaz and Malik," he said.

"I feel that we should go with Hafeez and Sarfraz as openers since that allows the team to field an extra bowler in the line-up."

Sallu, however, warned that the time for experimentation was over for Pakistan. "Since the 2015 World Cup, we have experimented a lot but the time for that is up now. Thankfully, most of our players have got enough exposure and practice in the Pakistan Super League matches which will surely come in handy for them," remarked Sallu.

Praising PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan and Executive committee chief Najam Sethi for putting together the PSL in a record time, Sallu said: "Both of them have done wonders by making the PSL a reality. The league is a huge hit already with the fans and will really benefit our players who will be learning tremendously by sharing the dressing room with iconic personalities like Sir Vivian Richards, Kevin Pietersen, Kumar Sangakkara, Chris Gayle and Shane Watson."

‘T20 World Cup ultimate test for Pakistan’