As the World XI touched down in Lahore overnight ahead of this week’s historic series against Pakistan, we profile 10 Pakistani players who have the opportunity to representing their country on home soil for the very first time.
Of sixteen players in Pakistan’s squad for the Independence Cup, Mohammad Amir is perhaps the most prominent and surprising name who has not played an international match in front of a home crowd before. Amir made his Pakistan debut in ICC World T20 in 2009 in England as a 17-year old, three months after the ill-fated Sri Lanka’s tour to Pakistan. When Zimbabwe toured the country for a limited overs series in 2015, he was still serving a five-year ban. The left-arm quick has played a crucial role in two ICC title wins for Pakistan as he struck in the first over of the ICC World T20 2009 final against Sri Lanka at Lord’s as well as in the first over of the innings in the Champions Trophy 2017 final against India at The Oval.
The player of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 with 13 wickets at14.69 is among those who are set to play in Pakistan for the very first time. Hasan Ali, with just about a year’s experience of international cricket behind him, has already developed into a leader of the pack. His ODI wicket tally (42) is the highest for any fast bowler since his debut against Ireland at Malahide in 2016. The right-arm pacer may have not played an international game in Pakistan, but has fond memories of Lahore as he was part of Peshawar Zalmi’s team that won the PSL final earlier this year.
In his own words: “I cannot explain my feelings. I am really excited and happy ahead of the Independence Cup. It is a great feeling to know that international cricket is coming back to Pakistan. I am thankful to all those players who will be playing for the World XI. I am getting impatient and cannot wait for the toss to happen and play at home for the first time.”
Pakistan’s quest for an all-rounder with an ability to bat in the late order might well be over with the emergence of Shadab Khan. The 18-year-old leg-spinner first rose to prominence in the ICC U19 World Cup in Bangladesh in 2016 and made his international debut a year later against the West Indies in the Caribbean. The spell he bowled in Barbados (4-0-7-3) is the cheapest ever by a debutant in T20Is, but his major claim to fame is the review oozing with confidence on a delivery that outsmarted Yuvraj Singh in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. At 18 years and 57 days, he was the youngest ever to feature in the final of an ICC ODI tournament.
In his own words: “I am very excited ahead of my first international match at home. Even when I was not playing, I used to miss cricket in Pakistan. I had always wanted to see international cricket at home. Now that it has come back and I am part of the team it is my wish to perform well and give fans something to cheer.”
You seldom see a player make his debut in a major global tournament, let alone in the knockout stage. Rumman Raees was handed his first ODI cap in Pakistan’s semi-final against England in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 after Mohammad Amir picked an injury. The left-arm seamer won many fans when he grabbed two wickets, including the prized scalp of Alex Hales, and didn’t make Pakistan feel the absence of their strike bowler. What makes Rumman tick is the variations he has in his bowling arsenal and the potential to serve Pakistan, especially in the limited overs cricket. Like many other youngsters in this squad, he could very well play his first international at home in the Independence Cup.
Fakhar Zaman is an aggressive opening batsman Pakistan have unearthed in their search to meet to the modern standards in the limited overs cricket. Although he had been in runs for the last couple of seasons he was handed international debut only in 2017 in the Caribbean. He hasn't been provided a proper chance in T20Is yet but showcased his talent in the ICC Champions Trophy in the United Kingdom where he became first batsman from Pakistan to score three 50plus scores in his career's first four ODIs, including a hundred in the final at The Oval that earned him man-of-the-match award. In the coming week, he'll get a chance to entertain his home crowd for the very first time.
In his own words: “Playing in Pakistan will be a big moment for all of us. We have really missed it. I have played a few games for Pakistan but I think playing at home will be a different experience altogether. I am thankful to both Pakistan Cricket Board and International Cricket Council for bringing world class players to Pakistan.”
Usman Khan Shinwari
The 23-year-old Usman Khan Shinwari is a left-arm pacer who rose to prominence with five wickets for nine runs; to date, the best figures by a fast bowler in T20s in Pakistan. A week later he was called up to the national team and made his T20I debut against Sri Lanka in Dubai. Shinwari’s returns in the two-T20I series were ordinary, but he rose again when called up by Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League earlier this year. Now back in the national team after three years, he is among those who will be eager to don the Pakistan cap in front of the home crowd.
Born in Rawalpindi, Mohammad Nawaz, the left-arm spinner first captured the attention with his all-round performance in the ICC U19 World Cup 2012 in Australia where he scored 199 runs at 49.75 and accounted for 10 wickets at 18.60 apiece. He was drafted in the national team after an impressive showing in the first PSL in which he snared 13 wickets and also made decent contributions with the bat. Since then he has represented Pakistan in all the three formats. Nawaz understands the feeling of playing at home as earlier in the year he represented Quetta Gladiators in the PSL final, but is yet to do so in the green of his national side.
In his own words: “It was amazing to play in the PSL final in Lahore. I was playing a big game in front of the home crowd and the atmosphere was just brilliant. This time I’m more excited as I have an opportunity to play in the Pakistan colours. As a youngster when you are playing at home you get a lot of confidence and that helps you to become mature cricketer.
Arguably the biggest surprise of the year, Faheem Ashraf, was one of the three Pakistan players that made their debut in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. The right-arm seamer is considered to be a bowling all-rounder but hit the headlines with an extraordinary batting effort, 64 off 30 balls, that handed Pakistan an unexpected victory in the warm-up match against Bangladesh prior to the Champions Trophy. Later he also played a part in Pakistan’s win against Sri Lanka with two wickets on his ODI debut. The 23-year-old is now in line to make his debut at home.
Born in Multan, Aamer Yamin, is an all-rounder in the mould of Faheem Ashraf. The right-arm seamer and hard-hitting batsman has the distinction of being the only Pakistan player to take a wicket with the first ball of his career in T20Is. He achieved that feat when he dismissed England’s Jason Roy at Sharjah in 2015. Prior to that he had also played three ODIs in Zimbabwe. Since then however, he hasn’t featured for Pakistan but could very well get an opportunity to stage a comeback in front of his home crowd against the World XI.
The left-hand batsman, Umar Amin, made his international debut in the Asia Cup 2010 has since featured in four Tests, 15 ODIs and 10 T20 Internationals. He has not however been a regular part of the side and missed the opportunity to play at home when Zimbabwe toured the country in 2015. After a strong showing in the Pakistan Cup, a domestic one-day tournament in which he scored two centuries, he is back in the national set-up and may well play his first game at home seven years after his debut.
In his own words: "Playing for Pakistan is always very special but playing for Pakistan in Pakistan for the first time in front of our own people will be exceptionally good. It will definitely pave the way and open the doors for International cricket's return to Pakistan."
Pakistan’s 16-member squad for the Independence Cup: Sarfraz Ahmad (Captain), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Umar Amin, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Amir, Rumman Raees, Usman Khan Shinwari and Sohail Khan.
11 Sep 17
Pakistan v World XI - Preparations underway
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