After days of speculation, the national selectors have unveiled a 15-member squad that will feature in the cricket World Cup that starts on February 14. The selectors spent a busy week consulting with Head Coach Waqar Younis and captain Misbahul Haq before arriving at the final combination of players. A surprise inclusion was that of Sohail Khan, the Karachi fast bowler, who was rewarded for his prolific form in domestic cricket. At the same time, Sohail Tanvir, Anwar Ali, Bilawal Bhatti and Umar Gul were ignored, while fast bowler Wahab Riaz managed to find a place in the squad.
On paper, the squad possesses fine talent with match-winners like Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan and Misbah, bracketed with emerging players like Sohaib Maqsood and Harris Sohail. However, players like Ehsan Adil and Riaz would need to raise their game if they are to make an impression. Thankfully, the selectors resisted the urge to recall players like Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik, who have been given umpteen chances in the past without notable success. However, Fawad Alam’s exclusion raises some questions. Apart from a poor series against Australia, Alam performed creditably throughout 2014, averaging 69, before being dropped for the series against New Zealand. One cannot help but wonder what exactly is he expected to do in order to get selected. Apart from Alam’s questionable exclusion, the squad selected is a good blend of youth and experience and has the potential to give a creditable display at the mega event. Pakistan begin their campaign against India on February 15 and would need to play out of their skins to break the jinx of never beating their archrivals in a World Cup encounter. While the national team will face stiff competition from some other fine teams too, one hopes to see them proving equal to the challenge and doing well at the mega event.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2015.
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