Pakistan’s credentials for the T20 World Cup have been questioned because of the poor form of a few of its squad members
The seventh edition of the T20 World Cup is scheduled to begin from 17th October in the UAE. Pakistan are in Group 2 alongside arch-rivals India, New Zealand, Afghanistan and two qualifier teams to be decided after the first round.The Green-shirts will play their first game against India on 24th. Tickets for the high-profile encounter sold out in just two hours.
The PCB selection committee faced criticism after the announcement of the World Cup squad for dropping veteran Shoab Malik, former skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, and fast young bowler Shahnawaz Dhani, as they have done well in the National T20 Cup.
The selection of Azam Khan and Sohaib Maqsood was criticised for their poor performance in the same event. In the first phase, played in Rawalpindi, Azam managed only 35 runs from three matches at an average of 11.66, while Sohaib scored 42 runs in three matches, an average of 14 runs.
Malik has been one of the top performers of the tournament. In the first four innings, he scored 180 runs in which he remained not out in three innings, thus having an average of 180. His strike rate was 159.29.
In a match against Sindh, Malik single-handedly rescued Central Punjab, scoring 85 off 47 balls, hitting five sixes and 8 fours. It earned him his 35th Player-of-the-Match award, the most by an Asian player in T20 cricket. He surpassed Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi, who has 34 such awards.
Internationally, Malik is the fifth. West Indian master blaster Chris Gayle leads the chart with 60 awards. Former South African skipper AB de Villiers got 42 awards.
Malik has played 116 T20 Internationals, a record. He has scored 2335 runs, averaging 31.13.
Last year, there was a war of words on social media between former opener Ramiz Raja, who is now PCB chairman, and Malik.
Ramiz advised Malik and Muhammad Hafeez to retire from international cricket to create space for youngsters. Ramiz’s argument was that Pakistan had a good pool of young players and must move ahead with them.
This was how Malik responded to Ramiz’s comments on Twitter: “Yes, @iramizraja bhai agreed. Since all 3 of us are at the end of our careers let’s retire gracefully together.”
Hafeez and Malik have insisted they still have plenty of cricket left in them to represent Pakistan in the T20 World Cup. Both have said that they will retire from all international cricket after the mega T20 event this year.
Both Hafeez and Malik were recalled to the Pakistan team for the T20 matches against Bangladesh in February this year, having remained on the sidelines since the ODI World Cup in England.
Malik made his T20 debut for Sialkot Stallions way back in 2005. He has played 441 T20s, and scored 67 fifties. He also has 152 wickets.
Malik retired from 50-overs cricket at the end of the 2019 World Cup. Malik is one of the only two cricketers currently playing who started their careers in the 1990s. The other is West Indies’ Chris Gayle.
The year 2020 is the 21st successive year in which Malik played at least one international match.
According to media reports, Prime Minister Imran Khan is unhappy with the poor performance of some of the players who have been selected for the World Cup. Therefore, there is a chance that Malik and Sarfraz will be inducted.
If Gayle (42) and Hafeez (41) can be selected for the mega-event, why not Malik, especially when he is in great form? If a senior player performs consistently, it boosts the morale of the inexperienced players in pressure situations.