8 years after the tragic series against Sri Lanka which saw the tourists’ bus shot at, the gentleman’s game finally returns to Pakistan for the first time. The two sides will play 3 T20s at the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore.
These three matches will be some of the most important in the nation’s history, setting a precedent for all future matches to be scheduled there. Sri Lanka are pencilled in to revisit the country next month, and will hopefully be the first of many to make the journey to Pakistan.
It has been 3 months since Pakistan has played any international cricket, last playing and winning the final of the Champions Trophy in England. Can they continue their good form against the World XI squad?
Sarfraz Ahmed(c), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Umar Amin, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Amir, Rumman Raees, Usman Khan, Sohail Khan
David Miller, Morne Morkel, Tim Paine, Thisara Perera, Imran Tahir, Darren Sammy, Hashim Amla, Grant Elliott, Samuel Badree, George Bailey, Tamim Iqbal, Paul Collingwood, Ben Cutting, Faf du Plessis(c)
Where the Teams Stand
FirstPost reported that Mohammad Amir will likely miss all the three matches due to the impending birth of his first child. His resurgence since serving his ban has been a boon for Pakistani bowling, and they will sorely miss his services. In his absence, Hasan Ali and Imad Wasim will be tasked with taking over the responsibilities of the new ball. Ali was instrumental in Pakistan’s success in the Champions Trophy, picking up 13 wickets in 5 matches. Wasim did not make much of an impression in the wickets column, but his healthy economy rate throughout the League makes up for the deficit. Sohail, Usman Khan, and Rumman Raees are other options in the pace department.
Shadab Khan impressed with his leg-breaks during the Champions Trophy, and at 18, he is one of the best young talents in the country. Shoaib Malik is always a reliable option with the ball. His knack of breaking partnerships has been indispensable over the years for the team. The bowlers will count on the home advantage to fox the World XI batsmen, who have minimal to no experience in that half of the subcontinent.
Pakistan possesses a strong batting lineup, which may not contain world-renowned names besides Malik, but they have been very successful as a unit. Babar Azam is perhaps one dark horse who has not done his talent justice in the chances he has had, but Azhar Ali, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Fakhar Zaman and Malik have been more or less consistent. Ahmed Shehzad will most likely replace Mohammad Hafeez in the team, giving them 6 batsmen and 5 bowlers, the same combination they played in the League.
The Pakistanis will get to play in front of their home fans after a long time, and this series is about more than just emerging victorious. It is about securing the future of Pakistan Cricket and its reputation in front of the world.
Comprising players from seven different nations, the World XI is a team brimming with quality and class. Led by Du Plessis, the team is balanced and possesses plenty of depth given its range of all-rounders. One of the squad’s biggest shortcomings is that Morne Morkel is the only pure pacer in the squad, all the rest being batting all-rounders who can bowl. However, their spin department is loaded with names such as Imran Tahir and Samuel Badree, and their bowling options should make up for the issue.
Thisara Perera, Darren Sammy, Grant Elliott, Paul Collingwood, and Ben Cutting are the all-rounders in the squad. Perera and Cutting are both pinch hitters who also act as handy pacers. The former’s recent record has not been very impressive and will reduce his chances of selection. Elliott and Collingwood are more level-headed middle order batsmen who can adeptly play the sheet anchor role. Both of them bowl medium pace.
Sammy falls somewhere in between the two, given his ability to escalate gears at a moments notice. Besides these, the other batsmen in the squad are Hashim Amla, David Miller, Du Plessis himself, Tamim Iqbal, and George Bailey. Keeper Tim Paine has also been included. He is the only keeper in the squad which makes him one of the first names on the team sheet.
Cutting, Perera, and Sammy are the three most likely to miss out based on recent performances. Miller too has been disappointing. Elliott is 38 years old, but his recent record in the domestic circuit has been comparatively better than these names. Regardless of who misses out, the team is bound to be filled with lots of exciting players who will surely put up an entertaining display for the fans in the first T20.
World XI wins.
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