The Dream Team – My Pakistan ODI XI

  1. Sharjeel Khan – Our very own Sanath Jasuriya

This hard-hitting Pakistani batsman has a strike rate of 150 which is the highest for the year 2016. The 27-year-old batsman has the ability to hit huge sixes on the leg side and when the bowler dares to pitch the ball on the off side it is smashed for a boundary. He can rotate the strike with ease. The only downside to his batting is his inability against quality spinners. Micky Arthur is showing confidence in him and hopefully he can maintain his strike rate and increase his average. Lastly he needs to work on his fitness as well.

  1. Khalid Latif – Pakistani Sehwag

Recently he has performed really well in the T20s against the West Indies and England. Minimum footwork but maximum intent. His off-drives and cuts remind us of Virender Sehwag. Just give him confidence and he will surely perform in T20 and ODIs.

  1. Babar Azam – One for the future

Back to back centuries in ODI format for a Pakistani player has been a rare sight. He has the capability to rotate the strike, hit textbook cricket strokes, change gears when needed and his timing is immaculate. The stage is set for him; he just needs to keep his head down and train harder to achieve new heights.

  1. Sarfaraz Ahmad (Captain) – Cheeky Miandad

When legends like Viv Richards and accomplished cricket analysts like Alan Wilkins compare you with the legendary Javed Miandad then you are certainly a highly rated cricketer. Sarfaraz like Miandad, moves a lot and baffles the bowler and then plays his shot. He is not only a master in rotating the strike but is also capable of hitting big sixes.

So far he has captained the T20 side and is undefeated. Under his captaincy the team looks different with vibrant energy and spark. More importantly he leads from the front. The only downside is his keeping. He needs to work hard and focus on wicket keeping.

  1. Umer Akmal – Consistently inconsistent

Umar Akmal has been a rare batting talent to emerge out of Pakistan in the last decade. Early on comparisons were made to Inzamam-ul-Haq and other rising stars of the current generation, including Virat Kohli of India. However, 5 years down, the demise of Umar Akmal has been remarkable. There are many reasons for his downfall, for instance, his unclear role in the team, favorite scapegoat and being the brother of Kamran Akmal.

He has all the shots in his arsenal and can clear the boundary at will. The captain and coach need to give him confidence and deal him as a special case like Sarfaraz Nawaz or Shoaib Akhtar.

  1. Shoaib Malik – The floater

Shoaib Malik has filled all roles in cricket. He has batted from the opening slot to number 11. He is a useful off-spin bowler and a brilliant fielder. He has an experience of 17 years and his performance has been phenomenal in the shorter versions of the game recently. He bats according to the situation, he can defend, rotate the strike and most importantly he can hit explosive sixes as well.

  1. Imad Wasim (Vice-captain) – The next big thing

Touted as the next big star in Pakistan cricket, the all-rounder has rocketed into the top five ICC Player Rankings for T20 bowlers after an exemplary performance in the recent series against the West Indies. He is a genuine all-rounder, who can bat, bowl and field. He is an intelligent cricketer and should be rewarded with the vice captaincy. He should be trained under Sarfaraz as Imad has the capability to lead the side in the future.

I would love to see him promoted up the order and play in the role of the legendary Jaques Kallis.       

  1. Mohammad Nawaz – Handy all-rounder

A handy all-rounder who can bowl 10 overs and can bat lower down the order. His recent bowling performances show that he has the mettle to play in the shorter formats. There is a question mark on his batting abilities, we have seen the classy pull shots for six and off drives but he has been unable to convert them into something substantial. He needs to improve his fielding skills.

  1. Sohail Tanvir – Hard-hitting tail ender who can bowl in the middle overs

The wrong footed all-rounder was an instant hit when he started playing for Pakistan. He Has an excellent slower ball and he usually chips in with 2 to 3 wickets. My only suggestion to the cricket management is that Tanvir needs to be used after 10-12 overs have been bowled. He has the pace of Azhar Mahmood or Abdul Razzaq; they were quite successful in the middle overs. He can hit the ball out of the park but he needs to improve his batting skills. His role should be defined as a pinch hitter who can chip in with 2-3 wickets.

  1. Mohammad Amir – Leading the pace attack

Watch out world cricket, he is back! He would have gotten a dozen more wickets if only the fielders had held on to their catches. He has the complete package as far as his bowling abilities are concerned. We all know what he is capable of so I’ll keep it short. Amir will play an important role in the future, especially in Australia.

  1. Junaid Khan – Opening and death bowling specialist

A few years back, Junaid was spearheading the pace attack. He is a hardworking lad but after his injury he has been struggling to gain form. Although more recently, he looked dangerous in the PSL and in the domestic circuit as well. He and Amir can make a lethal combo; both are young and energetic and there is always room for healthy competition like Wasim and Waqar.

  1. Hassan Ali – A worthy investment

Pakistan needs to invest in him, he has all the varieties as a bowler. He is still very young and can improve his pace in 2-3 years. With the right amount of practice, he can be trained to deliver yorkers.

All this team needs to do is to play as a single unit (I’m sure Sarfaraz will make sure that the team is united). Five specialist batsmen, 3 all-rounders and 3 specialist bowlers – perfect combination for an ODI. The important feature in this team is that all the players are aggressive and most of them are still very young.

P.S. I have nothing against Azhar Ali, he is a top class batsman but only in the longer version of the game (Tests). He is just in the team because he is leading the side. If you take away his captaincy, he will no longer play One Day Internationals. Wahab Riaz is another player who performs whenever his place is under scrutiny. He is the most inconsistent bowler in the Pakistan squad and is in the team because of his performance in the world cup against Australia. He needs to move on and perform consistently. Recently he got smashed all over the park in England and became the second most expensive bowler in an innings.


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