India vs Pakistan T20 World Cup 2021: T20 World Cup – India vs Pakistan; Top five Pakistan players to watch out for | Cricket News
Clubbed alongside Afghanistan and New Zealand, besides India and a team from Round 1 of the tournament, the Pakistan squad will be led by the inspirational Babar Azam.
Here are the five Pakistan players to watch in the tournament:
BABAR AZAM (Top order right hand batsman)
Babar Azam hasn’t looked back ever since he got a chance to wear the Pakistan jersey, starting with the under-15 level and then twice at the under-19 World Cups in 2010 and 2012, the latter of which saw him as the team’s top run-getter and skipper. Azam is the second fastest batsman to reach 2000 runs in ODI cricket. In T20Is, he is second on the list of players quickest to 1000 runs.
Babar Azam (AP Photo)
The pressure of captaincy hasn’t had any adverse effect on his game since being named the team’s white-ball captain in 2019. Azam, a first cousin of the Akmal brothers, is now also Pakistan’s Test skipper.
In 61 T20Is so far, he has scored 2204 runs with a highest score of 122. He averages a healthy 46.89 at a strike rate of 130.65. Besides one hundred, he has scored 20 half-centuries in the game’s shortest format.
MOHAMMAD RIZWAN (Wicket-keeper-batsman)
From a busy batsman, a prolific 2021 has made wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan prime T20 property, which augurs well for Pakistan at the ongoing T20 World Cup. A poor run of form with the bat saw him losing his place to Sarfaraz Ahmed in 2016, but the 29-year-old has managed to turn his international career around this year.
A century (104 not out) against South Africa was the beginning of a purple patch that saw Rizwan notch up seven half-centuries after that. It has given much needed fillip to the Pakistan top order.
Mohammad Rizwan (Getty Images)
His prolific form also benefited the Multan Sultans, as Rizwan led them to the Pakistan Super League title. Such was his dominance with the bat that he finished the tournament only behind Babar Azam in the list of top run-scorers in the 2021 PSL season.
In 43 T20Is, Rizwan has scored 1065 runs with a highest score of 104 not out and an average of 48.40. His T20I strike rate is 129.09. He also has eight T20I half-centuries to his credit.
SHAHEEN SHAH AFRIDI (Left arm fast bowler)
At 6-feet-6-inches, Shaheen Shah Afridi is an imposing figure running in to bowl. Almost destined for the big stage since childhood, he made those observations apparent on his Quaid-e-Azam trophy debut, taking 8 for 39.
From there to the Pakistan Super League and then to the national T20I squad, his career was in the fast lane, with his five wickets for four runs while bowling for Lahore Qalandars getting him the nod from the Pakistan Cricket Board selectors.
Shaheen Shah Afridi (AP Photo)
In UAE, his tall frame may enable him to extract some extra bounce from the traditionally slow and low pitches.
Shaheen has so far made 30 T20I appearances resulting in 32 wickets with a best of 3/20, though his economy rate of 8.17 is on the higher side.
HASAN ALI (Right arm medium fast bowler)
Hasan Ali’s international claim to fame was achieved at the 2017 Champions Trophy, when his 13 wickets in Pakistan’s title-winning campaign earned him the ‘Player of the Tournament’ award.
Striking crucial blows in the middle overs with a number of variations up his sleeve is the USP of this Pakistan medium-pacer, ever since he drew attention with his eight wickets in the National T20 Cup in 2015.
Hasan Ali (PCB Photo)
He took to international cricket like fish to water with two five-wicket hauls in the first 15 ODIs he played.
In 41 T20Is, Ali has taken 52 wickets, though he has been slightly expensive, with an economy rate of 8.29. His best T20I spell reads 4/18.
MOHAMMAD HAFEEZ (Allrounder) – Right hand batsman- Right arm off break
It seems like ages since Mohammad Hafeez first appeared on the international scene. He made his debut in 2003 and has been around as Pakistan’s go-to batting all-rounder over the last decade.
Hafeez provides skipper Babar Azam an option to open the batting and possibly bowling as well on the docile UAE pitches, as he has done in the past with his off-spin in white-ball cricket. He also brings in a lot of experience.
Mohammad Hafeez (Reuters Photo)
Since 2011, Hafeez has been more consistent than his first eight years in the international circuit, though it has been marred by three suspensions for a suspect bowling action.
He carries a wealth of experience in Pakistan’s T20 squad, with a total of 113 appearances under his belt. It has brought him 2429 runs, including 14 half-centuries and a highest of 99 not out. He, however, would want to improve on his strike rate and average from the current 120.96 and 26.40, respectively. As a spinner, he has taken 60 T2OI wickets with a best of 4/10 and economy rate of 6.54.