KARACHI: Pakistan are not short of talented players going into the ODI series against Bangladesh, starting on Friday in Dhaka, but they are certainly short of a genuine leg-spinner, with Shahid Afridi retired from the format and a hand injury ruling out Yasir Shah from the three-match battle.
This will be the first time in years that the men in green go into an international match without the services of Afridi and Misbahul Haq, both of whom said their goodbyes to 50-over cricket so that new players can establish their place in the national side.
Meanwhile, the injury to Yasir is the second in the space of a week’s time after Sohail Khan had to earlier pull out due to a back problem.
Despite this, newly-appointed captain Azhar Ali will be looking forward to the challenge; focused on seeing the side through the transition period.
Veteran Zulfiqar Babar will fill in for Yasir in an experienced spin attack which also includes Saeed Ajmal.
There is no lack of bite in the pace battery either, despite Muhammad Irfan’s unavailability for the series as Pakistan will be helped by the dynamic quartet of Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali and Ehsan Adil.
Meanwhile, National Cricket Academy head coach and former cricketer Muhammad Akram is hopeful that Ajmal will do well in the shorter formats of the game. “He has been an exceptional hard worker and has surprised everyone by changing his action according to the new protocols of international cricket,” he said. “I feel he will do well in T20 and one-dayers but he certainly needs a bit more time to adjust himself back into Test cricket.”
Rizwan, Saad in line for ODI debut
All-rounder Saad Nasim and middle-order batsman Muhammad Rizwan are likely to make their ODI debuts, while Asad Shafiq may have to sit out the match.
Saad, who is also a leg-spinner, has already played three T20Is for Pakistan, while Rizwan took part in the warm-up game against BCB XI, in which he scored 18 runs.
Former cricketer Shoaib Muhammad feels that Rizwan will be prove to be a success at the international level because he has got the basics right and has more shots in his repertoire than any other middle-order batsman in the country.
“Rizwan is a really exciting prospect for Pakistan and it’s good that he has been given a chance to prove himself internationally,” said Shoaib. “I feel his best position would be at number three because he likes the ball to come onto his bat nicely. We need such players, with international cricket getting fast as he can score quickly.”
Skipper Azhar Ali is likely to open with Muhammad Hafeez, while Sarfraz Ahmed would be asked to bat in the middle-order again.
Pakistan : Azhar Ali (capt), Sami Aslam, Sarfraz Ahmed, Muhammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Muhammad Rizwan, Haris Sohail, Saad Nasim, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Ehsan Adil, Junaid Khan
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Rony Talukdar, Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Mohammad Mahmudullah, Shakib alHasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Taskin Ahmed, Rubel Hossain, Abul Hasan
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