2017 ICC Champions Trophy: Team Preview – Pakistan
Pakistan is going into the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy as the eighth team which hasn’t tasted enough success in One-day International cricket in the recent past that further saw new guard at the helm, in the form of wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmad, to overhaul the limited-overs cricket stats which is not any fodder for the imagination when it comes to cricket fanatics.
The 29-year-old aggressive batsman Sarfraz will be leading Pakistan for the first time in the much-awaited event which would not only test his ability and capability with the bat but the quality of leadership, as the side is scheduled to play three matches during the 18-day tournament comprised of eight competitive teams.
Considering the fact, the unit’s secret lies in their unpredictability, as they could go flat or rise against the tide in the same breathe like Shahid Afridi had scripted while taking U-turns in the recent past.
As there is no dearth of the talent coming from Pakistan, the side is well known for their brilliance after gaining the momentum. However, they could spoil their own party while going through their worst phase both with the bat and a ball.
Interestingly, while going through the squad, Pakistan’s 15-member team is flanked by four players, who were also the part of 2013 ICC Champions Trophy squad when Men-in-Green looked dismal in all three departments.
The four players include Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz, Shoaib Malik, and Mohammad Hafeez, who didn’t yield much during the campaign in England. In 2013, Misbah-Ul-Haq, who recently retired from International cricket led from the front as a skipper by scoring 173 runs at an average of 86.50 which also included his best score of unbeaten 96.
In 2013, Pakistan lost its all three matches against West Indies followed by South Africa and arch-rivals India by eight wickets at Birmingham.
Since the inception of the tournament, Pakistan is yet to lay its hands on the coveted ICC title, as they had earned their best results while reaching the semifinals in 2000, 2004 and 2009, respectively.
Pakistan has often produced cricketers who have brought something special to the country in the very first instance, as the players can’t be written off in the upcoming competition.
Even though the side is excited to be the part of an 18-day competition, it is flanked by inexperienced campaigners which could prove costly to the side which has been applying defensive approach while chasing the targets in particular, as we had witnessed when Azhar Ali was marching his troops before stepping down from the limited-overs captaincy.
Where To Watch:
Stadium: If you want to go to the Stadium, tickets are available at the ICC Official website and ticketmaster.com
TV Channels (by country):
|Australia||Fox Sports (every game Live)|
|India||Star Sports (Every Match live) & Doordarshan (only India matches)|
|New Zealand||Sky NZ (Has not confirmed yet but most likely to retain broadcasting rights)|
|United Kingdom||Sky Sports 2 (Only network in the United Kingdom to broadcast Champions Trophy)|
|USA||WillowTV (Viewers in the USA can subscribe to WillowTV monthly package to get live access for Champions Trophy available on all platforms)|
|Sri Lanka||Star Sports (India)|
|Pakistan||Ten Sports(to broadcast all champions trophy matches) PTV (might have live coverage of only Pakistan matches.|
|Caribbeans||ESPN (not confirmed yet but ESPN is likely to win the rights in Caribbean countries)|
|South Africa||SuperSports(Confirmed as Champions Trophy broadcaster in South Africa and adjacent African countries)|
|Europe||No news so far about any coverage in European countries. But the EuroSport might scoop it if they able to negotiate a long-term deal with ICC to promote cricket in other euro countries.|
|Middle East||OSN Sports (Usually broadcast major cricket tournaments in some of the gulf states)|
|Ireland||Since Ireland did not qualify, Irish viewers can only watch Champions Trophy via SkySports|
|ICC Champions Trophy 2017 – TV Channels Worldwide|
Live Streaming: Hot Star
Live Score: Sportzwiki.com
Strength – New Captain, Fresh hopes:
Sarfraz Ahmed, who is sitting on the throne well, is expected to deliver for the team while showing the pure aggression alongside top-order batsmen before middle-order would join the party while anchoring the innings which is a solely a basic principle for the 50-over format, but it would be interesting to see the side coming into the mega even without the services of some big guns this time around.
Pakistan has always boasted about their bowling department which in fact proved to be an asset for the team from quite a long time, as compared to their batting line-up. If they would continue with Junaid Khan and Mohammad Amir followed by Wahab Riaz in English conditions, the glory is not that far for a team which has gone through a lot of testing while meeting time-to-time blips and brilliance respectively.
Weaknesses – Crumbling Under Pressure:
The biggest cause of worry has been their traditional approach while chasing down the targets. Though the middle-order seems balanced with the inclusion of experienced campaigner like Shoaib Malik, it would be interesting to see how they would go on to chase the tricky totals.
Moreover, Pakistan’s batting has been below par and with the lack of quality all-rounder like Abdul Razzaq, the team would be tested, as late batting order has to do a lot of homework.
The left-handed batsman Fakhar Zaman, who has a decent average on his back in List A matches is too early to get a call from PCB — to throw him at the international stage that too for a short-paced event. However, you never know what Pakistan has this time in the store.
Wahab Riaz is bit wayward and he could play the spoilsport if it won’t be his day. Moreover, his occasional brilliance would bring wonders to the team.
Opportunity – The X-Factor:
Pakistan has been a team which has fought close encounters on the field, but unfortunately following the spot-fixing menace which has not only overshadowed the domestic cricket but has also brought a bad name to Pakistan cricket in general and the current side would be vying to bask the glory which is not improbable.
While adding the possibility, the side has the potential to reach into the final four of the ICC Champions Trophy considering the fact that they would go as underdogs in the upcoming tournament alongside South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Opinion – Talking Point:
Pakistan has a relatively new outfit under Sarfraz Ahmed. They have had a really poor run in one-day internationals for a very long time and are desperate to turn the tables around. Not many are pinning their hopes on Sarfraz’s not-so-experienced side, but it is believed that the young blood may inspire Pakistan to pull off something extraordinary.
Remember, putting up some solid performances against competitive teams would be extraordinary for Pakistan, as for far too long they haven’t been able to trouble their opposition in the 50-over format. Champions Trophy may be the revival of Pakistan’s fortunes in ODIs.
Prediction In Line:
Although it’s going to be a cracker of a game against Virat Kohli-led India on June 4 at Birmingham, Pakistan might find it difficult against formidable India, who has a decent record in chasing down the totals.
However, Pakistan could deliver the knockout punch which would further play a crucial role for a team which seemed comfortable with batting first. We are predicting the Sarfraz-led unit might score 2-1 in three games.
Predicted XI Against India:
Sarfraz Ahmed: Aggressive batting, can surprise in challenging circumstances, likes to play at a higher strike run-rate and coming down the track against quality bowlers, but he could be peppered with short balls.
Ahmed Shehzad: Super talented, can take the game away from the position if in right nick of form, capable of scoring big runs and playing long innings.
Azhar Ali: Pakistan’s wall in recent times, solid defence, takes a little time to settle but can carry the burden of stabilising innings if batting started to collapse.
Babar Azam: Gritty stroke-maker, powerful striker of the ball and he is seen as the next big thing in Pakistan cricket in order to anchor the innings particularly in the 50-over format in the middle.
Hasan Ali: Swings the ball both ways, got some pace too and owes a skiddy action.
Imad Wasim: Spinning all-rounder, can hit maximums, most dangerous in middle overs – likes to break big partnerships.
Junaid Khan: Has a penchant for the speedy inswingers to right-handers, would be handy in English conditions.
Mohammad Hafeez: Senior player, usually the person thinking of plots to bring down the opposition, holds sway in the batting order and a utility bowler.
Shoaib Malik: Pakistan’s most senior player in the team, the only finisher, holds the responsibility to take care of the last stages of the match, a brilliant fielder.
Mohammad Amir: Mohammad Amir is returning to England this time to represent his country in the mega event. It would be interesting to see how promising fast bowler would deliver in the English condition which if not wholly will certainly suit the way he bowls.
Shadab Khan: The leg-spinner could play a crucial role for Pakistan while considering The teen prodigy the ball emerged from Pakistan Super League when he was playing for Islamabad United. The leggie has the ability to pick wickets while containing the opposition batsman and he makes well use of his Wrong-uns.
It would be interesting to see him bowling against teams like India and South Africa in the group stage if he gets a game straightaway.
The part-time Heroes And all-time Villains:
Umar Akmal: Highly talented power stroke-maker but yet to truly prove his mettle, has strong arms to hit the ball out of the park, who is subjected to fitness and is expected to get replaced either by Haris Sohail or Umar Amin. He has been in news more for wrong reasons than his batting numbers.
Wahab Riaz: Pakistan’s bad wolf, likes to bowl fast bouncers, master of reverse swing in death overs and a one spell hero. When he is not good, he bowls all over the surface and his problem has been his inconsistency.
|Name||Role||Date of Birth (D.O.B.)|
|Safraz Ahmad (Skipper)||Bat/WK||May 22, 1987|
|Ahmad Shahzad||Bat||November 23, 1991|
|Azhar Ali||Bat||19 February 1985|
|Babar Azam||Bat||October 15,1994|
|Fakhar Zaman||Bat||April 10, 1990|
|Umar Akmal/Haris Sohail||Bat – Subject to fitness||May 26, 1990|
|Imad Wasim||All-Rounder||December 18, 1988|
|Mohammad Hafeez||All-Rounder||October 17, 1980|
|Shoaib Malik||All-Rounder||February 1, 1982|
|Shadab Khan||Bowler||October 04, 1998|
|Hassan Ali||Bowler||February 07, 1994|
|Junaid Khan||Bowler||December 24, 1989|
|Faheem Ashraf||Bowler||January 16, 1994|
|Mohammad Amir||Bowler||April 13, 1992|
|Wahab Riaz||Bowler||June 28, 1985|
Fixtures – Pakistan Group B:
On June 4 against India at Edgbaston in Birmingham
On June 7 against South Africa at Edgbaston in Birmingham
On June 12 against Sri Lanka at Cardiff in Wales
Tahir Ibn Manzoor
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