This article aims to predict the Pakistan starting XI in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017.
The Pakistan selectors have announced their squad for the Champions Trophy. The 15 member squad would be led by Sarfaraz Ahmed and contains a blend of youth and experience. Pakistan have not been particularly impressive in the ICC tournaments over the last few years and they would like to change that.
Here we look at the probable 11 of Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy:
Ahmed Shahzad and Azhar Ali:
Ahmed Shahzad is regarded as one of the finest talents in Pakistan, but has flattered to deceive over the years and as a result has been in and out of the side. Shahzad is expected to open the batting for Pakistan in the Champions Trophy and would be looking to make a mark.
Azhar Ali is Pakistan's best test batsman but has not had a particularly good ODI career. Ali is technically sound and does not have any weakness to his game in the technical aspect, and would be really handy at the top of the order in England against the swinging ball. He and Shahzad would look to lay a good platform for the attacking batsmen to follow.
Middle Order: Mohammed Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik
As with all Pakistani batsmen, Mohammed Hafeez also has consistency issues but still is one of the finest batsmen in Pakistan. Hafeez has had a few good knocks in the last few games for Pakistan and he would like to carry his good form in the tournament. He is also handy with the ball and can chip in with a few wickets. He would be one of Pakistan's most important players in the tournament.
Talented batsman Babar Azam has had a wonderful start to his career and has drawn comparisons to Indian superstar Virat Kohli. Babar has an average of above 50 and is Pakistan's best batsman in the ODI format at present. How Pakistan fare in the tournament would depend a lot on the youngster's form.
Pakistan announce 15-member squad for the upcoming Champions Trophy in England #CT17 #Cricket #Pakistan
Shoaib Malik would walk in at No.5. The experienced campaigner was brilliant against West Indies and played a few crucial knocks to guide his team to victory. He would be tasked with the responsibility of guiding the team to a respectable score. His experience on the fast and bouncy pitches of England would also prove to be handy.
Lower Middle Order: Umar Akmal and Sarfaraz Ahmed (C & Wk)
Umar Akmal has been in and out of the Pakistan team and playing at a no. of positions has not helped his cause. But the dashing batsman would be looking to deliver in the Champions Trophy and seal his place in the side. Akmal is regarded as one of the finest batsmen in Pakistan but has failed to live up to the promise. Maybe now is his time step up.
Sarfaraz Ahmed would lead the side and also don the gloves. Sarfaraz has been Pakistan's most reliable batsman for quite some time now and has been rewarded with the captaincy of the team. He would look to strike some lusty blows down the order and guide his team to a big total.
Bowlers: Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz
Imad Wasim would be the specialist spinner in the absence of Yasir Shah and would look to carry on his good performances with the ball. Wasim has done really well for Pakistan whenever called upon and can also bat a bit, thus providing depth to the batting order. He would look to make a mark in the tournament.
Mohammad Amir would lead the bowling attack. The left arm pacer can be devastating on his day and swings the ball with pace. He would also benefit from the pace-friendly wickets in England and would look to make a mark.
Junaid Khan lost his place in the side last year but has come back in style with some good performances. Junaid can swing the ball both ways and would be handy in England. Sarfaraz Ahmed would love to have Junaid in good rhythm during the tournament.
Wahab Riaz completes the left arm pace battery. The speedster is a bit inconsistent but can trouble batsman on his day as he did to Shane Watson in the 2015 World Cup. Wahab is also handy with the bat and can strike a few lusty blows. He would be a crucial cog in the Pakistani team.
Sarfraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper/captain), Ahmad Shahzad, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Umar Akmal, Fakhar Zaman, Junaid Khan, Fahim Ashraf.