The final 15

PCB announces 15-member Pakistan squad for the ICC T20 World Cup

Editorial May 26, 2024


At last, the PCB announced a 15-member Pakistan squad for the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled to start from June 1 in the United States and the West Indies. Even the last-minute announcement was not without a controversy. Pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi refused to deputise skipper Babar Azam, apparently in protest on how he was axed as captain of the national T20 team by the new PCB czars who reinstated Babar to the helm for white-ball internationals. This at least indicates a kind of friction within the team that does not bode well prior to the world contest. If there is even a bit of weight in such apprehensions, the tour management must move in and get the team to gel as one unit for one cause: playing for the country and giving their hundred per cent.

The touring party, meanwhile, is pretty balanced – a mix of young talent and experienced campaigners. Besides eight seasoned players – Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan (most likely vice-captain), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf and Mohammad Amir – the squad also includes opener Saim Ayub, middle-order batters Azam Khan and Usman Khan, spinner Abrar Ahmed and pacer Abbas Afridi. Batters Salman Ali Agha and Irfan Khan Niazi failed to make it the final 15, even though they were part of the 18 men that toured Ireland for the four-game T20I series that Pakistan won 2-1.

While choosing a final eleven from the available players – specially from among the pacers and all-rounders – is quite a task, Team Pakistan, currently in England for a four-match T20I series, can still try a few combinations to tentatively finalise the team that will start its quest for the world title with the game against the co-host USA. The big day will, however, come on June 9 in New York when Pakistan will take on archrival India. Best of luck, Team Pakistan!

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2024.

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