Babar to lead a pace-heavy Pakistan side at T20 World Cup

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam is set to lead the Pakistan cricket team for the third successive time at the T20 World Cup, and he will travel with the 15-member squad equipped with the majority of pacers for the tournament next month.

However, the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) neither announced a vice-captain for the team nor gave any information about the travelling plan of the reserve players, despite knowing the fact that the upcoming World Cup will be played in the USA and West Indies.

In a recent announcement made before the ICC cut-off time (May 25) to submit the final squad, there were a few shocking twists.

The PCB adhered to the majority of players they selected for the T20I series against Ireland and England. In other words, it is the abridged version of the current 18-member squad of Pakistan in the England T20I series.

None of the players from outside were selected. Rather, Hasan Ali was released from the squad to continue his stint with the Warwickshire in County cricket. Additionally, Salman Ali Agha and Irfan Khan, who were hoping to be travelling as the reserves, were dropped out from the squad.

Pakistan Cricket Team 15-Member Squad: ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024

Here is a list of the 15-member squad of the Pakistan cricket team led by Babar Azam highlighted along with their roles in detail:

  • Batters (3): Babar Azam (Captain), Fakhar Zaman and Saim Ayub.
  • All-rounders (3): Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan
  • Wicketkeepers (3): Mohammad Rizwan, Azam Khan and Usman Khan.
  • Bowlers(6):
    • Fast Bowlers: Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah
    • Spin Bowlers: Abrar Ahmed

A detailed analysis of Pakistan’s 15-member squad for T20 World Cup 2024

Scrutinising the above list of the 15-member squad, you can observe the PCB has included five pacers and Abrar Ahmed as the only specialist leg spin bowler. The batting all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed, and the bowling all-rounders namely Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan, can only be an alternate option for spin bowling occasionally.

Also, Pakistan has retained the fast bowler Haris Rauf, despite the uncertainty surrounding his fitness and lack of practice games. The 30-year-old pacer faced a shoulder injury during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in February 2024. However, he made a return in the 2nd T20I game against England on May 25 in Birmingham and achieved a decent bowling figure of 2-34 in his 4-over spell.

Notably, Mohammad Amir is the sole survivor of Pakistan’s T20 World Cup squad that triumphed in 2009.

Pakistan Bowler’s Performance in T20Is: Stats and Ratings

Analyzing the performance of Pakistan’s full-time bowlers in T20Is, who are part of the upcoming World Cup, helps to predict their success. As a result, their detailed performance and ratings are tabulated below:

PlayerMatchesWicketsAverageEconomyPerformance Rating  (Out of 10)
Abrar Ahmed3223.05.755 / 10
Haris Rauf679221.78.218 / 10
Abbas Afridi91616.59.166 / 10
Mohammad Amir576422.87.227 /10
Naseem Shah241933.823.626 / 10
Shaheen Afridi659120.147.758 / 10

NOTE: These are the stats updated upto the 2nd T20I match between Pakistan and England, dated till 25th May 2024.

Issues and Delays in announcing Pakistan’s 15-member squad for T20 World Cup 2024

Earlier, the selection committee finalized the initial squad and submitted it to the PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi on 23rd May 2024. Unexpectedly, a dispute arose during the process with certain members of the selection panel stating that they hadn’t been informed properly. Mohsin wanted to analyse the duration of the meeting and voting records of the previous meetings, but those weren’t documented.

This resulted in the rejection of the squad and Naqvi insisted the members maintain the detailed notes of the meeting. At the same time, the PCB denied the interference of the chairman with specific selection choices. Due to the incorrect procedures being followed, the initial squad for the T20 World Cup was rejected, forcing the PCB to stick with the same squad from the ongoing England T20I series, excluding three players.

Conclusion:

When the other 19 teams announced their squads for the T20 World Cup 2024 before May 14, Pakistan was the only cricketing nation that kept the entire world waiting. Finally, the PCB announced the 15-member squad led by Babar Azam before the second T20I match against England.

Additionally, there have been several management issues in the team. It includes the dispute between Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi. Furthermore, the former South African cricketer Gary Kirsten, appointed as the new white-ball cricket head coach of the Pakistan team, hasn’t joined yet.

Despite reaching the knockout stages twice, Pakistan lost by 5 wickets to Australia in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup 2021 in the UAE and to England in the 2022 final played in Australia. This highlights the inconsistent bowling attack that allows opponents to conveniently targets in crucial stages of a tournament.

Based on these facts, there are many situations, that aren’t currently favourable for the Pakistanis. At the same time, history points out that Pakistani cricketers have always found a way to bounce back from difficult situations.

Once the ongoing 4-match T20I series against England concludes on May 30, Babar Azam and his men will fly to the USA.  Pakistan will kickstart their T20 World Cup campaign against the United States on June 6 at Grand Prairie Stadium in Dallas. Interestingly, their high-octane clash against India on June 9 in New York, sets the stage for a perfect thrilling contest.  Finally, it remains to be seen if the Pakistan cricket team’s pace-heavy squad succeeds or struggles in the T20 World Cup on slow and turning tracks in the West Indies, and the USA, which are highly favourable for spinners.