Pakistan have historically been a consistent side in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. In fact, they qualified for the finals in each of the first two edition and won it in 2009 as well. They followed that up with two successive semi-final finishes as well. However, in 2014 and 2016, they faced an exit from the Super 10s stage. Their overall record in the T20 World Cup reads 19 wins and 15 losses.
They have assembled a pretty strong squad this time around. The Babar Azam-led side are placed in a group alongside India, New Zealand, Afghanistan and two other qualifiers (from Round 1). They have a bright chance of progressing to the semi-finals.
Here, we look at five players from the Pakistan squad who could be the game-changers in the upcoming T20 World Cup.
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Babar Azam is arguably one of the best white-ball batters going around in the world at the moment. He has been supremely consistent for Pakistan and has been churning out big runs for fun. He averages 46.89 in T20Is which is the third-best (minimum 20 innings) for any player in the history of the shortest format. This year, his form has been a touch up and down. Yet, the Pakistan skipper has aggregated 523 runs at an average of 37.35 which includes four fifties and a hundred. But alongside Mohammad Rizwan, Azam is going to be crucial at the top for Pakistan.
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Mohammad Rizwan has been a revelation for Pakistan at the top of the order in T20I cricket. The wicket-keeper batsman has been magnificent in 2021, especially in the shortest format. Rizwan has amassed 752 runs (most by any player in 2021) in 14 innings. He averages 94 and has a strike-rate of 140.03. Moreover, he has smashed seven fifties and a ton which underlines his consistency. Thus, Rizwan will be a key player at the top of the order for Pakistan.
Shaheen Afridi’s numbers in 2021 in T20Is may not be great but in the recent past, the left-arm fast bowler has been in lethal form. He bowled superbly in the National T20 Cup (Pakistan’s premier domestic T20 competition) where he returned with 12 wickets at an average of 17.16 in just six games. Afridi can provide early breakthroughs with the new ball and can be effective at the death as well.
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Hasan Ali has had a big resurgence in 2021 and he has been very impressive across all formats. The 27-year-old fast bowler has been consistently picking wickets and that too, at crucial junctures. His form in T20 cricket has been excellent as well. He is the leading the wicket charts for Pakistan this year and has picked up 17 scalps at an average of 14.88. In the National T20 Cup, he took 11 wickets from eight games. Besides, Hasan Ali can tonk it around with the bat lower down the order which only adds to the depth.
Fakhar Zaman may not be in the best of forms in the recent past but he is a destructive player. While the left-hander usually bats at the top of the order, he is likely to fit in at either 3 or 4 in this Pakistan batting line-up. He has a strike-rate of 147.58 in T20Is in 2021 but he has mustered only 183 runs in 10 innings. The Pakistan middle-order has struggled big time this year. Azam and Rizwan have been doing the bulk of the scoring and hence, Zaman’s inclusion could be critical. He can bash spin well and get boundaries regularly. Thus, Zaman might be the one to watch out for.
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