Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) experiment with the national T20 side did not fare too well as the Men in Green suffered a shocking 2-1 series loss against Afghanistan.
The Green Shirts decided to rest five of their first-team players, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Afridi, and Haris Rauf as they provided a chance to the talented young stars to get a taste of international cricket.
Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) star players were rewarded for their performances as they were called up to the national squad. The likes of Saim Ayub, Ihsanullah, Tayyab Tahir, and Zaman Khan earned their maiden call-ups to the T20I squad while the likes of Azam Khan, Abdullah Shafique, Imad Wasim, and Faheem Ashraf were recalled to the squad after lengthy absences.
The new-look Pakistan side, under the captaincy of Shadab Khan, failed to impress in the first two T20Is as they showcased their inexperience with the bat in tricky conditions in Sharjah. They did make a strong comeback in the final T20I and registered a comprehensive victory to finish the series on a high.
With the focus now shifting to the upcoming T20I series against New Zealand, the question arises, should Pakistan go with the same squad or do they need to make changes to get back to winning ways?
Here are the changes we would make to the squad:
Pakistan’s all-format captain, Babar Azam, should be included back into the squad for two main reasons, to provide stability at the top of the order and lead the Pakistan T20I side once again. Babar’s absence at the top of the order was felt immensely as the Men in Green failed to score big in the first two T20Is.
While Mohammad Haris and Saim Ayub possess loads of talent, their inexperience at the international level was on full display in the series. Both players should still be a part of the line-up with Mohammad Haris moving to one down position while Babar Azam will come into the side to open with Saim Ayub.
The other inclusion into the side will be Haris Rauf, who is one of the vital cogs of the Pakistani white-ball bowling unit. Rauf’s absence was felt in the Afghanistan series as Pakistan struggled at the death. Rauf, alongside the likes of Zaman Khan and Ihsanullah, will make for a fearsome bowling unit.
Two players will have to make way for the inclusion of Babar and Rauf in the squad. The first player would be Naseem Shah, who looks to be running on fumes lately. Naseem should be offered some rest as Pakistan prepare for the upcoming 2023 Asia Cup and the ODI World Cup.
Naseem is one of the most important players in Pakistan’s white-ball setup and his form of late has been worrisome. He hasn’t been at his best recently and fears of burnout could potentially be threatening his regular place in the Pakistan squad.
The second player to make way in the series would be Shan Masood as his services in the T20I squad would not be required once Babar is back. Shan had a poor PSL and his place in the squad would not make sense in a home series, where the conditions are batting-friendly.
Shaheen Afridi, Fakhar Zaman, and Mohammad Rizwan can be rested further so that they are at their 100% come the all-important Asia Cup and finally the ODI World Cup in India.
It is expected that Pakistan management will make several changes to the squad with plenty of youngsters making way for the experienced players. The likes of Azam Khan and Tayyab Tahir are expected to be dropped but if it were up to us, we would not drop them just yet.
The 5-match bilateral T20I series against a makeshift New Zealand side would provide the perfect opportunity for the younger player to regain their confidence and kickstart their journey in international cricket.
This is what our squad would look like:
|Babar Azam (c)||Shadab Khan (vc)||Mohammad Haris (wk)||Abdullah Shafique||Azam Khan|
|Faheem Ashraf||Haris Rauf||Iftikhar Ahmed||Ihsaullah||Imad Wasim|
|Mohammad Nawaz||Mohammad Wasim Jr.||Saim Ayub||Tayyab Tahir||Zaman Khan|
Would you make any changes? Write down your suggestions below!
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