The 2017 Champions Trophy winning captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed expects Shoaib Malik to fill in the void created due to Mohammed Hafeez’s bowling suspension. Hafeez has been banned from bowling after failing a test. This is the third such incident in his career and he cannot bowl for another year. It is a big blow for the men in green as the preparations may have suffered a huge setback after Hafeez’s suspension.
However, Shoaib Malik has been around for quite some time now and must be able to fill up the vacancy quite comfortably. Malik has shown over the years that he can be more than a handy bowler and can be relied upon whenever the need arises. Senior players are expected to cover up in these situations so as to maintain the team balance and ensure that too much of tinkering with the XI is not done.
“This was a setback for the team but I am confident that the plan PCB has devised for rectification of Hafeez’s action will help him clear the next test. In the meantime, Shoaib Malik will pitch in with the ball during the middle overs. We are very hopeful that he’ll do a fine job in Hafeez’s absence.” Sarfaraz was quoted by Dawn.
Pakistan are in a tricky situation who must come out with a plan to play a positive cricket in New Zealand. Mohammed Nawaz and Harris Sohail are the two all-rounders in the squad. It is highly unlikely for both of them to find a spot in the XI and hence, one of them is sure to be left out. It will greatly depend on Pakistan’s decision to go with the extra batsman or the extra bowler. “Team selection will depend on the pitches there.” Sarfaraz added.
While Pakistan’s bowling has always been impressive, their batsman must find a way to counter the kiwi seam attack. The captain is optimistic about his team’s chances as the batsmen have done well in 2017. They have got the much-needed depth in the side with Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim chipping in with crucial runs. Pakistan will be hoping to perform well in the Island nation that would provide the much-needed confidence to its players. The loss in UAE against Sri Lanka must be forgotten and the team must focus on the task at hand.
The tour is set to begin on January 3 with a practice match against the New Zealand XI. It would be followed by the ODI series and then the T20’s. Pakistan have finished 2018 as the No.1 ranked team in T20 Internationals.