Pakistan is blessed with pace bowlers.
Out of the six teams I’ve chosen for this series, making the Pakistan side for each format was probably the easiest task, but still a fun one to do.
1. Shan Masood
First-class stats – 6975 runs, 35.05 average, 13 hundreds
Test stats – 1189 runs, 31.28 average, three hundreds
Masood has taken his time to settle into Test cricket, but he’s starting to find his feet at the elite level. A gritty opener who has blunted new ball attacks many times, Masood needs to convert his starts into bigger scores to establish himself in international cricket.
2. Abid Ali
FC stats – 7328 runs, 40.26 average, 20 hundreds
Test stats – 321 runs, 107 average, two hundreds
The Pakistan opener achieved a unique feat on Test debut: becoming the first player to score a hundred in their debut ODI and Test match. In his short career, Ali has already shown he can score runs on the subcontinent with ease. The real test will come when he plays outside the subcontinent and scoring runs with the same consistency.
3. Azhar Ali (captain)
FC stats – 12,441 runs, 39.12 average, 39 hundreds
Test stats – 5919 runs, 42.58 average, 16 hundreds
I remember watching him score twin tons versus Australia in 2014, and that’s when I realised he had class written all over him. Under the captaincy of Misbah-ul-Haq, Ali was a shining light and scored classic hundreds in England and Australia. Now the Test captain of Pakistan, Ali already has a young and exciting pace attack to work with and has continued to score runs for his nation.
4. Asad Shafiq
FC stats – 9294 runs, 40.76 average, 23 hundreds
Test stats – 4593 runs, 39.25 average, 12 hundreds
A technically sound batsman, Shafiq has played some unforgettable knocks for Pakistan in Test cricket. The first thing that comes to my mind whenever his name is mentioned is that quality 137 he scored that nearly pulled off a highly unlikely win at the Gabba in 2016. Although he has batted at five or six most times for Pakistan, I feel he’s genuinely good enough to bat in the top four.
5. Fawad Alam
FC stats – 12,222 runs, 56.84 average, 34 hundreds
Test stats – 250 runs, 41.66 average, one hundred
It’s a joke that Alam hasn’t played Test cricket since 2009. Dominating domestic cricket since the beginning of his career, Alam has been overlooked countless times by Pakistan selectors with no explanation. Ask any Pakistan fan and they’ll take him in their top six in Test cricket every day of the week.
6. Usman Salahuddin
FC stats – 7439 runs, 47.68 average, 23 hundreds
Test stats – 37 runs, 18.5 average
Salahuddin is another player who has been harshly treated by Pakistan selectors. His 100th first-class game was his first Test match, which shows that Pakistan selectors ignored him for quite some time. After his debut against England in 2018, Salahuddin has been discarded since then by the selectors. A player who scores tough runs, he is very unlucky not to have played more Test matches.
7. Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper)
FC stats – 4630 runs, 43.27 average, ten hundreds
Test stats – 225 runs, 32.14 average, one fifty
Having been the understudy to Sarfaraz Ahmed for years, Rizwan has been heavily backed under the captaincy of Azhar Ali in late 2019. A solid keeper, Rizwan showed his impressive batting ability against Australia with a courageous 95 at the Gabba last year. As long as his keeping remains at a high standard, he will play many more Test matches for Pakistan.
8. Yasir Shah
FC stats – 568 wickets, 28.66 average, 3.11 economy
Test stats – 213 wickets, 30.52 average, 3.19 economy
Shah has been a phenomenal bowler for Pakistan on the subcontinent. Although he has struggled to dry up the runs from one end outside the subcontinent, there’s no one better than him in Pakistan’s domestic circuit at the moment. He’s improved with the bat in the past 12 months as seen in his quality maiden ton against Australia at the Adelaide Oval last year.
9. Mohammad Abbas
FC stats – 456 wickets, 20.94 average, 2.72 economy
Test stats – 75 wickets, 20.76 average, 2.44 economy
Find me a better seamer in Pakistan’s first-class circuit in the last ten years. I’ll wait.
10. Naseem Shah
FC stats – 40 wickets, 19.97 average, 3.21 economy
Test stats – 13 wickets, 26.84 average, 3.48 economy
A five-for and hat trick in just four Test matches is not bad for a teenager bowling with raw pace. Only time will tell if he can be Pakistan’s Brett Lee. Pakistan has a gem on their hands, and they mustn’t overload him quickly.
11. Shaheen Shah Afridi
FC stats – 53 wickets, 25.32 average, 3.14 economy
Test stats – 30 wickets, 27.96 average, 3.13 economy
The left-armer has only played eight Tests, yet he’s bowling like a seasoned veteran. He is a quality bowler who will serve Pakistan cricket for 15 or 17 more years if he can remain injury-free.
List A stats – 2845 runs, 44.45 average, eight hundreds
ODI stats – 1723 runs, 53.84 average, seven hundreds
All the nepotism talks need to go away regarding Imam. Nephew of the legendary Inzamam-ul-Haq, he’s been brilliant since his ODI debut, having the second-highest average among openers in ODI cricket. Although his strike rate is on the lower side, what he gives is stability in Pakistan’s top order, which allows the other batsmen to play more freely.
2. Fakhar Zaman
List A stats – 4558 runs, 50.08 average, 12 hundreds
ODI stats – 1958 runs, 46.61 average, four hundreds
The Pakistan opener has played one way throughout his career, and it has worked most times. An aggressive batsman, Zaman loves taking on opposition bowlers and hardly shows respect to them regardless of the bowler’s reputation. Although he tends to fall to off spin early in his innings, Zaman has time on his side to improve that side of his game.
3. Babar Azam
List A stats – 6275 runs, 53.17 average, 21 hundreds
ODI stats – 3359 runs, 54.17 average, 11 hundreds
He is the best white-ball player Pakistan has produced in this century. Need I say anything more?
4. Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain and wicketkeeper)
List A stats – 3805 runs, 32.52 average, three hundreds
ODI stats – 2302 runs, 33.85 average, two hundreds
For many years, the Pakistan ODI skipper has been lingering in the lower order as a finisher when he’s a much better batsman at four. Alongside his solid batting, Sarfaraz has been a great skipper for Pakistan in one-day cricket, winning the 2017 Champions Trophy and just missing out on the 2019 World Cup semi-finals on net run rate.
5. Haris Sohail
List A stats – 2698 runs, 44.22 average, three hundreds
ODI stats – 1614 runs, 46.11 average, two hundreds
Sohail is primarily a top-four batsman, but he’s been excellent at number five for Pakistan as well. In the 2019 World Cup, Sohail hit two half-centuries that lead to Pakistan beating South Africa and New Zealand, while also keeping their semi-final hopes alive. He can bowl handy left-arm off spin if required.
6. Iftikhar Ahmed
List A stats – 3314 runs, 52.6 average, eight hundreds, 28 wickets, 64.5 average, 5.52 economy
ODI stats – 68 runs, 34 average, one wicket, 101 average, 4.39 economy
Ahmed has remained in the shadow of Mohammad Hafeez for the majority of his career but is finally getting his chance in limited-overs cricket. A hard-hitting batsman, Ahmed can also bowl some handy off spin, primarily to dry up the runs and get a wicket. The 29-year-old all-rounder probably has another eight to ten years left in him to serve Pakistan cricket and only time will tell if he’s an upgrade or downgrade on Hafeez.
7. Imad Wasim
List A stats – 2404 runs, 36.98 average, two hundreds, 115 wickets, 36.4 average, 4.65 economy
ODI stats – 952 runs, 41.39 average, five fifties, 42 wickets, 44.4 average, 4.83 economy
Wasim is one of the most underrated all-rounders in modern-day ODIs. The all-rounder has been nothing short of world class for Pakistan since his debut in 2015. Primarily a finisher, Wasim has played countless cameos to win games for Pakistan, and his accurate left-arm offies makes him a genuine fifth-choice bowler.
8. Shadab Khan
List A stats – 549 runs, 26.14 average, four fifties, 80 wickets, 29.16 average, 5.21 economy
ODI stats – 337 runs, 25.92 average, three fifties, 59 wickets, 29.66 average, 5.02 economy
At just the age of 21, the young leg-spinner has achieved many feats and probably goes under the radar. Since his debut in 2017, Khan has been a crucial cog for Pakistan, taking wickets in the middle overs and providing runs with the bat if needed. He will continue to get better as he matures and understands his own game a lot more.
9. Mohammad Amir
List A stats – 123 wickets, 26.65 average, 4.63 economy
ODI stats – 81 wickets, 29.62 average, 4.77 economy
Since his comeback, Amir helped Pakistan lift the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy. His credentials as a white-ball bowler cannot be dismissed. Although he struggles to take wickets if the new ball isn’t swinging, he is a very handy death-overs bowler. He is no mug with the bat as well, smashing 73 not out batting at number ten versus New Zealand many moons ago and having the highest score by a number 11 (58 off 28 versus England at Trent Bridge in 2016.
10. Junaid Khan
List A stats – 207 wickets, 30.93 average, 5.3 economy
ODI stats – 110 wickets, 29.23 average, 5.35 economy
The left-arm seamer has been a very efficient bowler for Pakistan. Bowling in the mid-130s, Junaid Khan has the knack of picking up wickets with the new ball and in the middle overs. Surprisingly, he wasn’t included in Pakistan’s 2019 World Cup squad, and his new-ball bowling could’ve been the difference for Pakistan making the knockout stages of the World Cup.
11. Usman Shinwari
List A stats – 77 wickets, 21.38 average, 4.89 economy
ODI stats – 34 wickets, 18.61 average, 4.94 economy
How does a player whose bowling average is under 20 not be in Pakistan’s World Cup squad? On flat pitches, Shinwari has always delivered for Pakistan when given a chance so he would’ve been perfect for the pitches given in World Cup. Bowling in the high 130s to low 140s, Shinwari has a deadly in-swinger that comes back in very late and a lethal yorker. The 26-year-old has plenty of years left to play international cricket, and he deserves a consistent run in the Pakistan ODI side.
1. Kamran Akmal (wicketkeeper)
T20 stats – 5969 runs, 27.25 average, five hundreds
T20I stats – 987 runs, 21 average, five fifties
Kamran Akmal may not be the greatest man behind the gloves, but he’s an outstanding T20 batsman. In the history of the Pakistan Super League, Akmal is the highest run-scorer of all time, scoring 1537 runs with three centuries and nine fifties in 55 innings. The 38-year-old is still in with a shot of making the T20 World Cup at the top of the order, and rightfully so.
2. Sharjeel Khan
T20 stats – 2006 runs, 26.39 average, two hundreds
T20I stats – 360 runs, 24 average, two fifties
Sharjeel is another player who can break into the Pakistan T20 side. The left-hander is perfect for T20 cricket, giving his teams a fast start, and when he gets going, he’s close to unstoppable. He didn’t have the greatest PSL this year, but he’ll enjoy the flatter and more true wickets on Aussie soil. If he and Akmal were to come back into the Pakistan T20 team, a lot of pressure would be taken off the shoulders of Babar Azam in the T20 World Cup.
3. Sohail Akhtar
T20 stats – 1343 runs, 31.23 average, one hundred
The right-hander has elevated his T20 game in the past few seasons. Having started his career as a finisher, Akhtar has matured into a top-order batsman, scoring runs more consistently nowadays. He can bowl medium pace but to call him an all-rounder wouldn’t be right. With Babar Azam his competition, I don’t see him in the T20 World Cup squad for Pakistan.
4. Shoaib Malik (captain)
T20 stats – 9892 runs, 37.46 average, 61 fifties
T20I stats – 2321 runs, 31.36 average, eight fifties
One of the greatest and the most underrated T20 batsman of all time. What Malik brings into this team is solidity and calmness. In all the T20 franchises he’s played for alongside Pakistan, Malik has been successful. In run chases, he’ll always ensure he’s at the crease until the end, and that’s why he’s been not out in 27.27 per cent of his T20 innings. A seasoned veteran who’s served Pakistan in international cricket since October 1999, who else but to appoint Malik as captain of this side?
5. Asif Ali
T20 stats – 3053 runs, 25.65 average, one hundred
T20I stats – 331 runs, 18.38 average
Asif Ali is one of the cleanest strikers of the cricket ball in Pakistan. Primarily a middle-order batsman, Ali loves hitting sixes between long on and square leg. His power game has made him into an effective T20 batsman, and he’ll be looking towards doing that more consistently for Pakistan.
6. Khushdil Shah
T20 stats – 926 runs, 27.23 average, six fifties
T20I stats – eight runs, eight average
Shah is a specialist T20 finisher. The left-hander has been a crucial cog for Multan Sultans with a solid off-side game. He can bowl some left-arm offies if required. He made his T20I debut against Australia a few months ago but needs more games to determine if he can elevate his game to the international level.
7. Faheem Ashraf
T20 stats – 616 runs, 14.66 average, one fifty, 102 wickets, 24.56 average, 8.27
T20I stats – 133 runs, 11.08 average, 24 wickets, 23.2 average, 7.47 economy
Ashraf has been a good find for Pakistan cricket, especially in white-ball formats. The bowling all-rounder can give you four sound overs of medium pace and crucial cameos with the bat. With age and his performances on his side, Ashraf has a good chance of making the T20 World Cup squad.
8. Mohammad Nawaz
T20 stats – 1368 runs, 21.37 average, three fifties, 109 wickets, 26.59 average, 7.21 economy
T20I stats – 13 runs, 6.5 average, 12 wickets, 28.33 average, 6.8 economy
Nawaz is unlucky that his competition is Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan, or else he’d have played more white-ball games for Pakistan. Like Ashraf, Nawaz is primarily a finisher with the bat. However, his bowling is his bigger strength. His tidy left-arm offies keep opposition batsmen in check and has been the perfect man to partner Fawad Ahmed in the spin bowling department in the PSL over the past two editions.
9. Muhammad Hasnain
T20 stats – 48 wickets, 21.6 average, 8.43 economy
T20I stats – five wickets, 38.6 average, 8.04 economy
The 20-year-old burst onto the scene last year when his pace troubled batsmen in the PSL. This season he went up a notch, being the leading wicket-taker of the PSL with 15 wickets in an under-performing Quetta side. There are areas of his game that he needs to improve, but he’s already shown the cricketing world what he is capable of when on song.
10. Haris Rauf
T20 stats – 44 wickets, 22.27 average, 7.91 economy
T20I stats – two wickets, 29.5 average, 7.37 economy
Who would’ve thought that an injury to Dale Steyn in the Big Bash would’ve unearthed a gem for Pakistan cricket? From playing grade cricket in Tasmania to an international debut a few months later, Rauf has had a remarkable rise over the past few months. Apart from clocking 150-plus at times, Rauf has a perfect slower ball, yorker and bouncer. His performance in BBL09 with 20 wickets in ten games already gives him a ticket to Australia in the T20 World Cup for Pakistan.
11. Rumman Raees
T20 stats – 105 wickets, 24.24 average, 7.35 economy
T20I stats – eight wickets, 27.5 average, 7.63 economy
Another product of the left-arm seam academy of Pakistan, Raees doesn’t get the recognition he deserves with his adaptability to bowl on different surfaces. On slower pitches, Raees bowls very effective off-cutters and slower balls, forcing batsmen to create their own pace. When the pitches are more batsmen-friendly, he’ll bowl more toe crushers and back of a length deliveries to ensure the opposition batsmen aren’t dominating him. Only time will tell if he can make a comeback into the Pakistan T20 side in time for the T20 World Cup.