The heavy defeats suffered at the hands of New Zealand right after the whitewash to England have forced the national selection committee and team management to throw in the mix two rookies — Rumman Raees, Mohammad Nawaz — and an experienced but untested opener in the T20I formats — Khurram Manzoor —for the prestigious WorldT20 event in India.
The preparations before the event went in disarray after the continued failure of the top-order trio of Ahmed Shehzad, Sohaib Maqsood and Mohammad Rizwan and it seems that the think tank lost their confidence in the talented but mercurial set of players who were given an extended opportunity of cementing their berths in the WorldT20 squad.
Insiders indicate that there was unanimity over the decision of axing Shehzad and Maqsood while Rizwan despite his livewire fielding abilities was found short in the batting department, his inexplicable running between the wickets leading to comical dismissals in Sharjah and Wellington also hurt his chances irrevocably.
At present the squad doesn’t look like one that doesn’t look like a world beater, but given the dearth of quality batsmen in the domestic circuit perhaps it is one that is closest to the best possible one.
Khurram Manzoor who last played an ODI seven years ago, is fortunate to make it to the squad and the Asia Cup T20 team despite failing to attract the attention of any of the five franchises who are presently battling in the inaugural PSL in the UAE.
Manzoor had decent success against England A and Lions over the various white ball games — including a century —played recently, but it would be interesting to see how he carries his run with the bat at the highest and most competitive crash, bang and wallop format tournament.
At 29 years of age he has found just reward for his form and one hopes that the Karachi batsman will succeed in giving explosive starts to the team in tandem with Mohammad Hafeez.
The batting department will be shored up by the presence of the extremely impressive Quetta Gladiators all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz who has been a massive impact for his team in their opening three wins at the PSL.
For over two years the youngster who plays for National Bank at the domestic level knocked at the doors of international selection.
However, both his bowling and batting credentials are surely going to be tested in pressure cooker environs of the World T20 while the Asia Cup in Bangladesh too may prove to be a baptism of fire especially if some of the big-hitters take a fancy to his left-arm offerings.
Pakistan’s bowling resources are full of left-arm options with Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan, Raees, Mohammad Amir, Nawaz and Imad Wasim.
The pacers — Riaz, Irfan and Amir — will need to combine with all their might and talent to cow down batters from the rest of the world.
Raees who has proven his worth as a potent new ball bowler with his guile and change of pace is one option that can cause trouble to the opposition but the big stage is going to be a big test of his nerves too.
Under Wasim Akram’s tutelage at Islamabad United, the left armer has tied down the opponents both with the new and the old ball and the Pakistan team management must be hoping that Raees learns more tricks of the trade from the master of left-arm fast bowling leading up to the tough international assignments.
Among the players who have been left out all-rounder Aamer Yamin is one who must be wondering what he did wrong to miss out on selection. The Multan player who is representing Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL only played one game against England — claiming a wicket off his first ball — before warming the bench in New Zealand which has now culminated in axing from the World T20 squad.