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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Should Sarfaraz Ahmed be selected for the T20 World Cup?

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Former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed during an ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 match. Photo: AFP
  • PCB criticised for its squad selection for New Zealand home series. 
  • Cricket expert Dr Nauman Niaz believes most players are already set in their positions however, the choice of spinners needs consideration. 
  • Dr Nauman wanta PCB to consider Sarfraz for middle-order as he is expected to perform on UAE pitches. 

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) recently announced its 20-man squad for the upcoming series against New Zealand. However, some analysts are not happy with the choices made by the cricket board. 

Pakistan will play three ICC Cricket World Cup Super League One-Day Internationals against New Zealand in Rawalpindi on 17, 19 and 21 September.

Hpwever, renowned cricket expert Dr Nauman Niaz thinks former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed should be selected for the T20 World Cup. 

Dr Nauman said Sarfraz Ahmed should be considered for the middle-order mainly due to his previous record on UAE pitches. With Rizwan keeping behind the stumps, Sarfraz can be equally good in the outfield, he noted. 

Commenting on the Pakistan squad yet to be named for the Twenty20 World Cup, sports journalist Dr Nauman Niaz said four cricketers – Shaheen Afridi, Hassan Ali, Babar Azam and Muhammad Rizwan – have cemented their places in the T20 squad.

He said an important question on everyone’s minds was regarding the openers. 

“With Babar Azam coming in third place, who will open [the innings] along with Rizwan? One option is Sharjeel Khan,” said the analyst, while talking to a private news channel.

“Sharjeel Khan will be lucky if [incoming PCB chairman] Ramiz Raja is not taken on board in his selection.”

Niaz said either it would be Sharjeel Khan or Fakhar Zaman, who would go on to compete in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup for Pakistan. 

Dr Nauman said he believes Shoaib Malik will be selected for the T20 squad, though his age can be an annoying factor for Ramiz Raja. 

He said Shoaib Malik will be a part of the Twenty20 squad as a middle-order batsman, which has in recent months been a source of disappointment for the Pakistan cricket team.

He said Ramiz Raja was not a person who settles scores with people, adding that he his role would be to bring in a new policy for the board and someone who heads the operations at the helm of affairs. Hence, he said Hafeez will be part of the T20 squad.

Dr Nauman said Imad Wasim will also make it to the T20 squad as a spinner. “You [selectors] have to bet on Usman Qadir or Zahid Mehmood. Honestly speaking, Usman will not be much efficient against top quality teams,” he said.

It will be a difficult decision between Zahid Mehmood and Usman Qadir, he pointed out, said the analyst. However, he added that Usman is likely to play in the T20 World Cup as he is a close friend of skipper Babar Azam.

The spinner will play a crucial role in the Twenty20 World Cup hence it will be a vital decision for the PCB to take, he emphasised. Dr Nauman said the matter of fast bowlers is already settled hence there was no room for speculation in that regard. 

Dr Nauman said the situation of Pakistan cricket was not as bad as it is being projected, adding that some players were given undue chances time and again while others, more deserving of them, were denied. 

Commenting on the new talent, Dr Nauman said Haider Ali is a talent powerhouse but he needs time to make an impact in international cricket while Azam Khan is a premature induction, although he has all the capabilities to become a sound cricketer. 

Dr Nauman praised Iftikhar Ahmed, saying that he is a mature cricketer and has proved himself in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). 

Pakistan ODI squad announced for New Zealand series

Babar Azam (captain, Central Punjab), Abdullah Shafique (Central Punjab), Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab), Fakhar Zaman (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Iftikhar Ahmed (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Imam-ul-Haq (Balochistan), Khushdil Shah (Southern Punjab), Mohammad Haris (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh), Mohammad Nawaz (Northern), Mohammad Rizwan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Wasim Jnr (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Saud Shakeel (Sindh), Shadab Khan (Northern), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Shahnawaz Dahani (Sindh), Usman Qadir (Central Punjab) and Zahid Mahmood (Southern Punjab)

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