As India and Pakistan get set to lock horns in the first high-profile tie of the Asia Cup 2016 in Mirpur on Saturday, we look at a relatively unknown and potentially dangerous Pakistan side and look at Five lesser known players amongst the Pakistan ranks. MS Dhoni and co. would probably want to check this out before they take the field at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium this evening.
1. Mohammad Nawaz
Expected to partner Shahid Afridi this evening in the spin department, Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz who plays in the PSL for Quetta Gladiators is someone the Indian batsmen know little about. Nawaz has been quite brilliant in the inaugural edition of the tournament finishing as the 2nd highest wicket taker with 13 wickets from 10 matches.
Nawaz registered his best figures of 4 for 13 in Quetta’s first match in the PSL against Islamabad United and earned the Player of the Match award. The 21-year old also took three scalps in his team’s victory over Peshawar Zalmi in the 1st Qualifier. He has been impressive with the bat as well scoring 113 runs at an average of 18.83, with a top score of 42, deservedly earning a call up to national side.
2. Sharjeel Khan
Included as a last-minute replacement for the injured Babar Azam, hard-hitting batsman Sharjeel Khan was rewarded for his Pakistan Super League (PSL) performances with a National team call-up. Sharjeel, who hit the highest individual score in the PSL with a blistering 62-ball 117 and also registered the most sixes (19) by any player, has represented Pakistan in 11 ODIs and 3 T20s prior to the Asia Cup. A Sharjeel vs Bumrah contest could be a mouth-watering prospect tonight.
3. Khurram Manzoor
Manzoor, who has represented Pakistan in 16 Test matches and 7 ODIs, has not played for the National side in any format since August 2014. His last selection to Pakistan’s limited-overs teams came more than six years ago, in 2009 against Sri Lanka. Preferred in place of the hot-and-cold Ahmed Shehzad, Manzoor was not picked up by a PSL team this year, which makes his inclusion all the more surprising, given the Asia Cup is in T20 format this year.
4. Anwar Ali
Pakistan all-rounder Anwar Ali, who once ironed socks for a living as a teenage factory labourer, has finally found his feet in international cricket. Ali performed commendably in Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand and picked up 9 wickets in 9 games in the PSL. Ali, who is a fast bowler out of the conventional Pakistani mould, boasting both pace and ability to swing the ball, is someone the Indian batsmen would be wary of.
5. Imad Wasim
It wasn’t suggested Mohammad Amir who made a return to international cricket in Pakistan’s tour to New Zealand, but a former teen prodigy of Pakistan cricket, Imad Wasim, who boasts unquestionable potential and a clean rap sheet to go with it. Almost a forgotten man, Wasim captained the Pakistan U-19 side in the 2006 U-19 World Cup but has never been able to graduate to a senior cricketer. But with a chance in the Asia Cup and World T20 awaiting him, this is the time for Wasim to make his chance count.