Pakistan come off the back of a 0-3 ODI series loss against England’s revamped squad, and will now head into them in a format where their fortunes have swung wildly in the last few years. What’s Pakistan’s XI likely to be from the group picked for the England series?
Like most T20 teams, Pakistan are top-heavy, if only slightly. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan have 1,004 and 737 runs respectively in the format since 2019. The two have opened together in seven matches since 2019, with only Fakhar Zaman and Babar opening in more T20Is. It’s a big question that faces Pakistan ahead of the T20 World Cup – do they go with Rizwan and risk having two accumulators at the top or push Fakhar to the top? To start off with, it’s likely that they will go with Rizwan and Babar at the top. Sharjeel Khan is the other option at the top.
Fakhar Zaman has batted in the middle-order in Mohammad Hafeez’s absence and that’s likely to continue even though Hafeez is back, especially as the highly touted Haider Ali missed the tour after breaking the bubble protocols before the PSL final.
With Fakhar and Hafeez set to bat at 3 and 4, Pakistan sorely need big hitters in the middle and this could pave the way for Azam Khan to make a highly anticipated debut. Sohaib Maqsood, the Player of the Match from the PSL final, will also likely slot in as the finisher.
Sarfaraz Ahmed is unlikely to get game time this series, especially given that the side already has enough batsmen whose strength is rotating strike. Rizwan or Azam Khan could take the gloves. Pakistan might go with the latter if he starts to gauge their options.
Hasan Ali’s recent form should see him start in the XI alongside Shaheen Shah Afridi. There are a few contenders for the third seamers spot – Haris Rauf, Arshad Iqbal and Mohammad Hasnain with Faheem Ashraf as the all-round option. Rauf could get more game time in the series at the start, although Pakistan will be keen to try out Iqbal.
Imad Wasim had a forgettable PSL and that could bring Mohammad Nawaz back in contention, especially as Shadab Khan had an ordinary ODI series. Nawaz slotting in as the all-rounder at seven also gives Pakistan enough bowling options.
Usman Qadir, whose stocks in T20Is have risen slowly, yet steadily, is someone Pakistan will be keen to unleash on England, especially after losing the ODIs 0-3.
Pakistan likely XI for T20Is
Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman, Azam Khan (wk), Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir.
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