On Saturday night Lahore Qalandars held their nerves in a thriller to lift the PSL 8 trophy and become the first team of Pakistan Super League (PSL) to defend their title. A nail biting finish saw
Multan Sultans almost snatching away the dreams of Lahore Qalandars fans.
Qalandars won by just 1 run, in a match that swung with every ball bowled, capping a memorable PSL season. What’s next for cricketing fans? Well, game on hai. Get ready for Pakistan Vs Afghanistan T20 series.
The three-match T20I series will be played in Sharjah, starting March 24. Pakistan will be led by the young all-rounder Shadab Khan after regular captain Babar Azam along with several big names like Muhammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi, have decided to take rest and sit out the series.
Pakistan have named a new-look squad for the Afghanistan T20Is. Several big names have been rested including Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, and Shaheen Shah Afridi. Performances in the PSL has mattered in selection with Saim Ayub and Ihsanullah being given maiden call-ups while Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf have been recalled.
“The Afghanistan series is the training ground to test our youngsters,” Najam Sethi, the PCB chief, said in a press interaction on March 13. “I am not worried about winning or losing to Afghanistan – if we find few talented youngsters, it will serve the purpose. The series is largely about blooding our new talent and developing them.”
Pakistan have four opening options to choose from – Shan Masood, Saim Ayub, Mohammad Haris, and Abdullah Shafique. Among them, Haris and Ayub were the most impressive in the PSL, with both scoring 180-plus runs at averages above 30 and strike rates above 180 as openers. Masood meanwhile scored 236 runs at an average of 26.22 and a strike rate of 124.87.
Masood has been part of Pakistan’s T20 setup for a while now and has been playing the anchor role at No.3. With Babar and Rizwan not there, they would ideally want him to continue in his role and have Ayub and Haris open the innings. Shafique might have to wait his turn to get in the XI.
Iftikhar Ahmed should continue at his usual No.4 position, with Azam Khan slotting in as the wicketkeeper at No.5. Khan scored 282 runs in the PSL this year at a strike rate of 161.14, and would be looking to make an impact on his T20I comeback.
Shadab Khan will bat at No.6 and lead the spin attack. For No.7 and No.8, Pakistan will have three options to choose from – the incumbent Mohammad Nawaz, and two players making their comeback, Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf.
While both Nawaz and Imad are similar commodities, bowling left-arm orthodox and batting left-handed, the generally low and slow Sharjah surface might force the Pakistan think-tank to pick both, with Ashraf sitting out. On the other hand, if they feel like the conditions on offer won’t be conducive to spin bowling, Ashraf will pip Imad with Nawaz retaining his spot.
For the last three slots, Pakistan have four pace bowlers to choose from – Ihsanullah, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, and Zaman Khan. Naseem and Wasim pick themselves as the regulars, while the young sensation Ihsanullah will in all probability make his international debut ahead of Zaman Khan, following his breakthrough PSL season.
Pakistan likely XI for T20Is
Mohammad Haris, Saim Ayub, Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Azam Khan (wk), Shadab Khan (c), Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Ihsanullah
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