Cricket Hope – Diary – DAWN.COM

SIX Pakistani players named in three ICC-announced Teams of the Year speak to an uplifting 2021 for the national team. Captain Babar Azam, named captain of the One-Day International and Twenty20 International teams, also reflects what an inspirational leader he has been on the pitch. He led the team to the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup last year after a tough build-up, but as Pakistan won only two out of six ODIs, Babar continued to make runs. He failed to make the Test squad, however, despite leading Pakistan to seven wins from nine matches, with mid-ranked batsman Fawad Alam and guards Shaheen Shah Afridi – also a member of the T20 team – and Hasan Ali being named there. Flyhalf and wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan was named to the T20 team after breaking the record for most runs in a calendar year in the game’s shortest format of a country mile. Rizwan has amassed 1,326 runs over the past 12 months, beating Irishman Paul Stirling’s record of 748 in 2019. Babar has also had a prolific year in T20, amassing 939 runs, and the opening duo are expected to help the Pakistan to do even better in this area. T20 World Cup of the year in Australia where they will face India in their opening game.

Pakistan recorded their first-ever World Cup victory against their historic rivals in last year’s T20 extravaganza in the United Arab Emirates, where Shaheen was flawless with the ball. Hasan Ali also had an impressive year in Tests while Fawad provided valuable points as the team won the series against South Africa, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Apart from Babar, batsman Fakhar Zaman was the other Pakistani cricketer in the ICC one-day squad – a format in which Pakistan needs improvement. It’s a big year for Pakistani cricket with Australia, England, New Zealand and the West Indies all scheduled to tour. It is hoped that the large presence of Pakistani players in ICC rosters will spur the team to more wins.

Posted in Dawn, January 22, 2022

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