T20 World Cup: Can we make it to the semi-finals again?
Pakistan has a history of doing well in World Cups as our team is always loaded with match winners.
As every cricket lover in Pakistan would already know, the squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup has been announced. Experienced wicket keeper Kamran Akmal has made a comeback after having been cleared by Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) integrity committee along with the all-rounder Abdul Razzaq and batsman Imran Nazir.
Pakistan has done very well in the T20 World Cups so far, making it to the semi-finals on all three occasions and being victorious on one.
Here we will have a brief look at what we can expect from the selected squad in the upcoming T20 Cup.
The newly appointed captain of the team has been a permanent fixture in the side for quite a while now. This is mostly due to his very accurate bowling rather than his inconsistent batting which, by the way, is supposed to be his forte. He is likely to play an important role with the ball again as the pitches in Sri Lanka will definitely suit his style of bowling. Hafeez's batting will be of high importance, too, as Pakistan will be looking forward to some solid starts from him and it will give him the required confidence as a newly appointed leader.
This could well be Imran Nazir's last chance in international cricket. Nazir has not been able to do his talent any justice after a very bright start to his career almost 13 years ago in 1999. He scored a century in only his second test in West Indies against the likes of Ambrose and Walsh.
Nazir has all the shots in the book and if he can bring some method to his madness, he has the chances of becoming a winner in the World Cup. Pakistan definitely needs a player like him at the top of the order to fire up the guns and have the score board soaring.
Nasir Jamshed is yet to make his T20 debut for Pakistan, but fans have high expectations from him especially after his impressive performance in the 2012 Asia Cup against India.
After his very solid performances in the test matches, picking Asad Shafiq looks like an excellent decision by the board. Some fans are of the view that his game might not be suited for the T20s as he is not a big hitter. But in a fragile batting lineup like ours, and in the absence of more mature players such as Misbah and Younis, there is definitely room for someone like Shafiq in the team who can consolidate the lineup when required.
As of late, Shoaib has been mostly struggling, but he can still be a very valuable player in T20s with his useful off-breaks, very good fielding, and his ability to bat sensibly and hit the big shots when needed. He has proven so in the past in the shortest format of the game.
At one time, this man was a match winner whether with a bat or a ball in his hands. Razzaq (known as Razzler) in his prime was easily the best all rounder in the world in ODIs, even with the likes of Klusener, Pollock and Kallis playing against him. Razzler will find the pitches in Sri Lanka to his liking, both as a batsman and as a bowler, and it will not be surprising at all if he wins a match or two by solely batting for Pakistan.
His boundaries can make the stadium echo with screams and cheers. Supporters will be confident about him as far as the T20s go. However, he has been going through a very rare lean patch with the ball, but come the big matches like the World Cup, Afridi will step up as he usually does!
Yasir Arafat has been around for quite a while now and has not been able to cement his place in the team just yet. Some might say he hasn’t been given enough chances; others might say that he hasn't performed well enough to deserve these chances. Yasir now has a chance to set things right as he, too, can be a very useful player with the bat, ball and on the field.
Match winner! Pakistan needs to make the most of his talents as this player has the ability to win a match single-handedly. Captain/management should send him to bat at number three and four and make sure he faces as many deliveries as he can. He has the ability to take the attack to the opposition even if a wicket falls early and T20 cricket is all about keeping the runs going even with the wickets falling.
Saeed Ajmal has proven to be by far the best spinner in the world, hands down. He played a huge role in the last World Cup win for Pakistan and a lot will depend on him again as the team doesn't have a quality pace attack.
We all know what Gul can do on his day, however, lately those days have been few and far in between. Gul’s form will be of high importance as Pakistan will depend heavily on him with the new ball as the other two pacers in the team can be equally inconsistent. So keeping our fingers crossed, let's hope Gul shines through in the T20s!
Sami has been selected again after two half-decent performances against Sri Lanka in the T20s. Sami’s overall career has been a disappointment so far and it will be a surprise if we see that change at this stage of his career. After Sohail Tanveer’s performances against Sri Lanka, it looks like he will be competing with Gul for the place in the selected squad.
Tanveer looked the best of all the fast-paced bowlers in the series against Sri Lanka ─ completely fit and in form after a really long time. His form will give hope and confidence to the supporters as our fast bowling department looks iffy, with only an out-of-form Gul and Mohammad Sami to give him support.
This young kid has impressed us all in the domestic circuit with his temperament but we all know things are completely different when it comes to international cricket; it’s a huge jump. With the likes of Hafeez, Afridi and Ajmal, who are a permanent fixture in the selected team, it’s highly unlikely that Raza Hassan will get a chance to play a match. Maybe selectors would have been better off picking a player who had more chances of making it to the list and contributing to it.
Kamran Akmal can be an asset to the team if only he learns to take more catches than drops. The team's coach must really work hard on him if he wants to yield any great results out of him.
If we look at the selected players, surprisingly our fast bowling department stands out as our weakest link. It seems like we will be heavily dependent on our spinners to do for us what they have been doing in the recent past. We can always expect the unexpected from our batting. Thankfully, we do have batsmen like Umar, Afridi, Razzaq and Imran, who can turn a game around in just a few overs no matter who the opposition is.
Pakistan has a history of doing well in world cups as our team is always loaded with match winners. The selected team might not be as talented as some of the teams Pakistan has fielded against in the past, but it still has enough fire power, both with the bat and the ball, to go a long way and make it to the fourth consecutive semi-finals in the T20 World Cups.
Read more by Asim here.