With the 2019 ICC World Cup in England just over a month away, the excitement has been building up with participating countries naming their respective squads for the tournament.
New Zealand, India, Australia and England are some of the countries who have already named their squads for the World Cup as the final deadline of April 23 approaches.
Pakistan’s 23-man probable squad for the World Cup recently underwent a two-day fitness training camp with the final 15-man squad set to be announced on Thursday.
Ahead of the all-important squad announcement, we take a look at the key talking points.
In Pakistan’s recent 5-0 ODI drubbing at the hands of Australia in the UAE, opener Fakhar Zaman was handed a rest with Shan Masood and Abid Ali given the chance to audition.
Both players made their respective ODI debuts in the series with Masood aggregating 111 runs from four appearances with a fine half-century in the final match.
Abid Ali, meanwhile, scored a superb 112 on his ODI debut before being dismissed for a duck in his second outing.
While Fakhar and Imam-ul-Haq will surely take the opening slots for Pakistan in the World Cup, they will want an able back-up option and it will be interesting to see who among Masood and Abid the selectors will finally tilt towards.
It is in the pace department where Pakistan’s biggest headaches are with regards to the World Cup squad selection. There are several contenders for the pace attack which includes Hasan Ali, Usman Shinwari, Shaheen Afridi, Junaid Khan and the three Mohammads – Abbas, Amir and Hasnain.
Of them, Hasan and Shaheen are certain to board the World Cup plane but the make up of their supporting cast remains up in the air. While Abbas has always been a Test specialist, Hasnain is still an inexperienced teenager with just three ODIs under his belt.
Then there is Amir who has failed to pick up a single wicket in nine of his last 14 ODI appearances with his white-ball struggles an open secret. Add in Junaid’s unflattering injury record into the mix and the picture become even murkier.
Who among the remaining pacers joins Hasan and Shaheen on the World Cup plan remains anyone’s guess at the moment.
YO-YO FITNESS TEST CLOUD
While there are several puzzles to solve for Pakistan’s selectors ahead of Thursday’s announcement, the recent results of the Yo-Yo fitness test have thrown up a few problems.
As many as five players including stand-in skipper Imad Wasim were reported to have failed the Yo-Yo test during the ODI whitewash at the hands of Australia. The team management has made it clear that all players travelling for the World Cup will have to pass the fitness test at any cost and that could prove to be decisive with several players currently struggling.
Imad is still recuperating from a knee-flare up and was reportedly unable to take the test in the recently concluded fitness camp at Lahore. The all-rounder is set to be provided with another chance to prove his fitness before the World Cup gets underway.
Meanwhile, Abid and Hasnain were two of the players to fail the test in the Australia series and as such, their selection could be in jeopardy depending on the progress they have made ever since.
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