Monday Jun 29, 2020
As many as 10 players of the national team are infected by the novel coronavirus, and even though the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) seems desperate to send them for the England tour anyway, the national pool still has some decent chaps who could take their place.
Even though the PCB has another five players as reserves neither is experienced enough, especially for English conditions.
Below we discuss some of the names who would be ideal replacements, if some of the 10 are unable to recover in time for this Sunday's England-bound chartered flight.
When this lefty was first given chance in the national team, it had seemed that Pakistan's prayers for a dependable opening batsman had finally been answered. But as it happens so often, a few failures and Sami Aslam has been completely forgotten.
He's been nowhere near the national pool since 2017. In the domestic circuit though, he piles up runs like it's nobody's business. In the last season of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, no batsman (min 800 runs) averaged higher than Aslam's staggering 78.54. Imran Butt, the tournament's highest scorer, only had 70 more runs than Aslam but his average of 62.26 was much inferior. Yet, Butt is on the reserves list and Aslam is not.
Why he can be in the team: His rich domestic form and the fact that he averages 55.66 in England. Sample size was just two Tests but still.
This here is another opener but of a completely opposite format. He has his baggage but if Mohammad Hafeez is fine, he could be the ideal opening partner for Babar Azam in the three T20Is.
Other than the questions of morality and character that his selection would evoke, there is no need to plead his case. Sharjeel is a natural for T20 format. Just see what he did in PSL earlier this year.
Why he can be in the team: The only time he played a T20I in England against England, he smashed 59 off 36 balls and Pakistan won by nine wickets with more than five overs to spare. That's Sharjeel Khan for you.
Think what you may of Kamran Akmal the wicketkeeper, or Kamran Akmal the person, but you cannot tell us with a straight face that he isn't one of the top five T20 batsmen in the country. He regularly piles up runs in PSLs and does the same in the domestic circuit.
He averaged 60.40 for champions Central Punjab in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy last season and was also the tournament's second-highest scorer.
Why he can be in the team: Granted that bringing back a 38-year-old doesn't look good but hey what about Hafeez and Shoaib Malik then? Besides, this isn't a normal tour. In times of a pandemic you do not necessarily have to have an eye on the future. The tour of England is for today and right now, and eldest Akmal, as things currently stand, still has game left in him.
One thing though. He averages 10.41 and 7.66 in Tests and T20Is in England. And not over a short sample but across several games. But that was the old Akmal. The older Akmal may have learnt ... no?
Not the most easy on the eyes of the bowlers but few would argue over Sohail Tanvir's effectiveness in the 20-over format. Even at 35, he had the best bowling average in the PSL earlier this year, picking up a wicket for every 15.30 runs and giving up a paltry 6.80 per over - figures no one else came near.
Why he can be in the side: Did you not read all of the above. The man is a T20 genius. He is also very different and deceptive to any fast bowler you could have in the squad.