Of the 45 matches scheduled for the group-stage of the 2019 World Cup, four of them were abandoned without a result. Two of them impacted the make-up of the four teams playing in the semi-finals.
Pakistan have released a 23-man preliminary squad, which has made my job a bit easier predicting their final squad, although a few eyebrows might still be raised.
Fakhar Zaman, Imam-Ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Haris Sohail
Fakhar Zaman has been the opener Pakistan fans have been crying out for: an aggressive batsman who isn’t afraid of taking on bowlers. His starts will be crucial for Pakistan.
There have been accusations of nepotism around Imam due to his uncle Inzamam-Ul-Haq being in the selection committee, but he just keeps on scoring runs. He complements Zaman really well and will be looking to bat for 35-40 overs every time he steps out to bat.
Some clueless fans need to stop comparing Babar Azam to Virat Kohli but he’s still one of the best white-ball batsmen in world cricket.
Abid Ali showed on his debut against Australia what he’s capable of, and he will be Pakistan’s back-up opener.
Haris Sohail also showed in the Australia series what Pakistan have been missing recently and will most likely take the No.4 spot.
Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan
Shoaib Malik will retire at the end of the World Cup and Pakistan will dearly miss his services. He plays pace and spin well, and he could be a sixth bowling option for Pakistan should captain Sarfraz Ahmed need his services.
Imad Wasim on his day is dangerous with both bat and ball. The Welsh-born all-rounder is an option to even bowl with the new ball should there be a hint of turn in the pitch.
Shadab Khan is an underrated all-rounder. His leg spin is still developing but he’s shown in international and franchise cricket how lethal he can be. His batting is something opposition teams should not underestimate as well.
Faheem Ashraf is the package Pakistan have been looking for since Abdul Razzaq retired. Can bat, bowl and field well. But please don’t give him the new ball. He’s not ready for that role yet.
Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Mohammad Rizwan
Safraz Ahmed has only played a sole ODI match since his racist comments to South African all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo.
His keeping, captaincy and batting has declined since Pakistan won the Champions Trophy, but the break may do him good come the World Cup.
Mohammad Rizwan is someone Australian fans have seen in the last two series where he’s been Pakistan’s keeper and has done well with the gloves.
Despite playing 69 fewer ODI matches than Sarfraz Ahmed, he has shown his capabilities with the bat by scoring as many ODI centuries as him (two).
Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan Shinwari
Hasan Ali is someone who is surprisingly quick and his off-cutters – plus his Ronaldo imitation every time he gets a wicket – will be key for Pakistan.
Shaheen Shah Afridi is just another one of the endless Pakistani left-arm seamers who has burst onto the scene and done nothing wrong in international cricket so far. Can tonk a six here and there at No.10, too.
Junaid Khan has always delivered every time he has been given the ball, whether it be his first spell with the new ball, during the middle overs, or his last spell at the death.
Usman Shinwari is another deceivingly quick left-armer and will be a decent option for Pakistan should they rest one of their front-line quicks.
I’ve got no specialist spinner because both Wasim and Shadab Khan are capable enough to play as a lone tweaker or in a spin duo. So no Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Hafeez in my squad.
Thoughts, Pakistan fans?