World Cup team

Published May 27, 2024

PAKISTAN waited until the very end to name their T20 World Cup squad. Even then, there was last-minute drama. Four members of the selection committee, including captain Babar Azam and head coach Gary Kirsten, had decided on the combination from England, where the national team is playing its final warm-up series ahead of the tournament in the US and West Indies. But with inputs from the remaining three committee members having apparently not been taken till the deadline set by the International Cricket Council, a virtual meeting was set up to rubber-stamp the final squad. There were few surprises — with almost all the players currently in England, apart from Salman Ali Agha and Irfan Khan Niazi, grabbing a ticket to the World Cup. Five of them — batters Saim Ayub, Azam Khan and Usman Khan, and bowlers Abrar Ahmed and Abbas Afridi — will feature in the tournament for the first time. Babar will lead Pakistan for the third time at a T20 World Cup, his side having finished as semi-finalists and runners-up in the last two editions respectively. Eight players in the current squad featured in the final of the 2022 edition, where Pakistan lost to England.

Thus, the ongoing series against the defending champions will give a clearer idea of Pakistan’s credentials. After the first game was washed out, Pakistan’s batters came up short in the chase in the second. The players now have just two more matches to perform better before their World Cup opener. Pakistan experimented with their line-up in their last two series against New Zealand and Ireland, where results were not favourable. They came back twice to draw the series against New Zealand, before falling in the opening game of the series triumph against Ireland. Pakistan, however, have a knack of peaking before tournaments, and with a settled line-up, the team will hope to lay down a marker before the World Cup against England.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2024

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