Pakistan Team Preview, ICC World T20 2016
The 2009 champion boasts a strong bowling attack and mercurial batting under the captaincy of Shahid Afridi
13 March 2016 21:30
With the competition being held in familiar subcontinental conditions this time around, Shahid Afridi's side will be hoping to go far and repeat that success.
The sheer fact that a person can have so much talent, that even after a long hiatus he can bowl with the same vigour and precision, is amazing
Group: Pakistan is in Group 2 in the Super 10 stage, along with Australia, India, New Zealand and the team that will qualify from Group A.
Captain: Shahid Afridi
Coach: Waqar Younis
Preview: The recently concluded inaugural Pakistan Super League gave new life to Pakistan's T20 aspirations and the players would be hoping to carry some of the lessons from that competition over to the international stage. Sharjeel Khan and Mohammad Sami were two late entrants to the squad, rewarded for consistent PSL performances. The side travelling to India has several untested players who will be expected to play around an experienced core, led by Afridi.
Although Pakistan couldn't make it to the Asia Cup final in preparation for the ICC World T20 2016, the bowlers gave a good account of themselves. While the batsmen, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal have all come good at various times in the Asia Cup and the recent series against New Zealand (which it lost 1-2) and England (which it lost 0-3, the last despite taking the game to a one-over eliminator), they will hope to fire in unison in India.
Strengths: Pakistan's strength is its enviable bowling attack. Mohammad Amir is back to his best and charging in at over 145 clicks, forming a formidable pace pairing with Wahab Riaz, the experienced warhorse. Sami too found good pace in the Asia Cup, with Mohammad Irfan also stepping up to threaten the batsmen. Even if the batsmen have a bad day, these bowlers are capable of defending below-par totals and challenging opposition batsmen. On turn-friendly surfaces in India, Afridi, the leading wicket-taker in T20Is, can make an impact with his legspin, while Imad Wasim and Mohammad Nawaz provide more spin options.
Recent form: Beat Sri Lanka by six wickets, lost by five wickets to Bangladesh, won by seven wickets against UAE and lost by five wickets to India in the Asia Cup.
Star player: Shahid Afridi
Afridi was the all-round star of Pakistan's title run in 2009 and has been leading from the front as captain. Not only is he the highest wicket-taker in T20Is with 93 sticks from 94 matches, but his strike-rate in the format is also 148.92, the fifth-highest in the world and second among those who have played at least 50 games. An entertaining hitter with 66 career sixes and 95 fours against his name, Pakistan knows that the team will always have a chance when Afridi is at the crease. Afridi, who had said he would retire from game after the ICC World T20 2016, indicated he might change his mind. But if he sticks to the plan, this might be the last time fans get to see this entertainer in full flow.
One to watch: Mohammad Amir
Mohammad Amir's return to the world stage was hesitant, the bowler picking up one New Zealand wicket on his comeback after five years. But, since then, the 23-year-old pacer has grown in confidence. He rattled the Indian top order at the Asia Cup and stifled UAE with incredible figures of 4-1-6-2. Little surprise then, that he can now count Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni among his admirers.
#That6 Hitter: Umar Akmal
With 1611 runs from 75 matches , Umar Akmal is fourth on the list of highest run-scorers in T20I cricket. Nearly half of those runs came in big hits to the fence: he has 118 fours and 53 career sixes, giving him a strike-rate of 122.97. Against New Zealand at the start of 2016, his strike-rate was over 200 when he smashed a 22-ball fifty in a losing cause – but that still didn't beat his 21-ball effort against England in 2010.
Pakistan's highest margin of victory by runs in T20Is came on December 30, 2010, when it posted 183 for 6 before bundling New Zealand out for 80, for a 103-run victory.
When Umar Akmal isn't terrorising opposition bowlers, he is a mean fielder: his 34 catches puts him third on the all-time list for the format.
Pakistan has won 18 of the 30 ICC World T20 matches it has played.
Pakistan has twice posted 191 against Australia at the World T20. The first time, in 2010, it lost the semifinal by three wickets thanks to a marauding Michael Hussey; in 2014, the bowlers held on to complete a 16-run win.
Key match: v India, , HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala
Pakistan's success rate against neighbour and arch-rival India in world events is not great, and in the World T20, the men in blue have come out in front on each of the teams' four encounters so far, including the inaugural final. That their 2016 match-up happens on Indian soil will make Pakistan's task harder, but the players are sure to be charged up and eager to go. Amir shook the Indian batting when the teams met in the Asia Cup. Virat Kohli stood as the biggest obstacle to its win that game and the team will be looking for another interesting chapter in the growing Amir-Kohli tussle. A win in its second game will also give the team good momentum.
What people are saying about them:
“I feel Pakistan will do well in the ICC World Twenty20. The team Pakistan has selected for the ICC World T20 has in-form players and I feel it has become even better after a few late changes. The players will enter these tournaments on the back of the PSL experience, which will surely help them.” – Misbah ul Haq.
“The T20 team has been selected keeping in mind the conditions during the World T20 and the recent performances of some players in domestic and ‘A’ team tours. The team is a fine blend of experience and youth and the selectors believe that team will do well.” – Haroon Rashid, Pakistan chairman of selectors.
“The sheer fact that a person can have so much talent, that even after a long hiatus he can bowl with the same vigour and precision, is amazing. The way he bowled against India, it didn't look as if he was making a comeback after five long years. It was a treat to watch.” - Inzamam-ul Haq about Amir.
Squad: Shahid Afridi (capt), Anwar Ali, Imad Wasim, Khalid Latif, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Sami, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Sharjeel Khan, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz.
: v A1, Eden Gardens, Kolkata
: v India, HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala
: v New Zealand, PCA Stadium, Mohali
: v Australia, PCA Stadium, Mohali