New skipper, new squad: Let's beat Sri Lanka!
Hafeez shouldn’t find it too hard to get used to the job as he is well-respected by the team and leads by example.
The Pakistan Cricket Board announced the squads for the tour to Sri Lanka yesterday. The three formats got their own tailored squads with the T20 squad coming up with the biggest surprise.
Hafeez has been made the captain for the format and vice-captain to Misbahul Haq in the other two formats as Misbah stood down from international T20 cricket. No formal retirement announcement has been made as yet.
Hafeez is affectionately called ‘The Professor’ amongst the team members and is known to think deeply about the game, its strategies and plans, making him the most logical successor to Misbah.
He will get a chance to prove himself in the shortest format first. Though the T20 matches against Sri Lanka are the only matches that Pakistan will play before the World T20 comes around, Hafeez shouldn’t find it too hard to get used to the job as he is well-respected by the team and leads by example.
He has been a consistent performer with the bat and the ball over the last year.
His appointment as captain also frees up a batting spot in the line-up. Misbah’s form in the format hadn’t really been up to the mark, off late, and his initial defensive approach could hurt Pakistan given the speed of the game in the T20 format.
With him gone, a more aggressive batsman can be slotted in. The young Harris Sohail would be a good option if we continue to hand the gloves behind the stumps to Umar Akmal in the format.
Mohammad Sami, the veteran Pakistani fast bowler, has also been nodded back in after having a wonderful run in the Bangladesh Premier League. Sami is genuinely quick and should be able to provide the additional need for speed required for the T20s.
The One Day and Test squads have remained almost the same to the ones that played against England recently. There have been some new additions but the core remains unchanged. I was happy to read that Mohammad Yousuf was not recalled to the Test squad after clearing PCB’s fitness test.
Yousuf was a class act in his prime. However, he hasn’t played first class cricket in the last year and currently cannot hold spot in the Test line up considering the newcomers have done well. In addition to this, Younis Khan and Misbahul Haq provide the needed experience to the middle-order.
But this elation was followed with a touch of disappointment at the non-selection of Umar Akmal to the Test squad. He should have been selected instead of either Faisal Iqbal or Mohammad Ayub, both of whom are over 30 years old and do not seem to fit well with Pakistan’s long time goals and prospects.
All three squads seem well suited for the tasks ahead and should provide good competition to Sri Lanka. With the World T20 coming up in September, this tour provides an ideal acclimatisation opportunity for the players.
Now let’s just hope they take full advantage of this.
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