For the past year, Pakistani ODI squad has suffered a string of crushing defeats leading to a steady decline in the team’s ranking and morale. Even though, many people believe that the team turned around its fortune by defeating West Indies 3-0 in the ODI series, the real test of the team will be against the world champions Australia. The series against Australia is not only of immense importance for the team but also for the captain Azhar Ali as the team’s performance will determine his future. Despite realizing the importance of the series, the selectors choose to ignore a lot of players in the domestic circuit, who were knocking on the doors to get their opportunity and stuck with a largely unchanged squad. A lot of players who had represented Pakistan in the past, performed outstandingly during the Quaid-e-Azam trophy, BPL, and the domestic One-day tournament yet they did not receive the green signal to make their return. So today, let us take a look at five players who could have potentially made their return in the ODI series against Australia.
1. Kamran Akmal
The wicket-keeper batsman has been in sublime form as of late scoring 1035 runs in 14 innings, at an average of 79.61 with five centuries and three fifties in the Quid-e-Azam trophy, in conditions that cannot be typically described as batting friendly. Despite displaying tremendous form and ability with the bat, Akmal was overlooked by the selectors due to undisclosed reasons. According to many sources, the selection committee wanted to include the wicket keeper batsman in the squad, however, Azhar Ali and Mickey Arthur persisted continuing with Mohammed Rizwan as the reserve wicket-keeper option. If that is the case, then the team is surely missing out on the experience and red hot form of Akmal. Many analysts have suggested the theory that the team management didn’t want to disturb Sarfaraz Ahmed but if that was the only issue, with the kind of form he is in, Akmal could have been just selected as a specialist batsman.
2. Mohammed Hafeez
Despite being the most consistent performer of the ODI squad, question marks were thrown at Hafeez’s inclusion during the ODI series against England. More bad luck followed for the experienced batsman as he got injured and was out for the rest of the series. Since then he hasn’t managed to find a place in the side despite his experience and his past performances. His exclusion is made more surprising if you add to the fact that the all-rounder has been allowed to bowl again after he cleared the ICC bowling test. Hafeez’s inclusion would have given Azhar Ali another bowling option and it would have further strengthened the team combination. Despite all these benefits the selectors opted to ignore him. It may be possible that the selectors want to give Hafeez more time to perfect his new bowling action but for now, the all-rounder finds himself out of the squad.
3. Junaid Khan
The left-arm fast bowler was one of the top performers of the side until injury and selection inconsistencies derailed him and caused him to lose his spot. Since then, Junaid has been sitting on the sidelines waiting for his opportunity and it looked like that his long absence from the team just might end after his amazing performance during the Bangladesh premier league where he picked up 20 wickets in fourteen matches at an average of just 16.05. Turns out his performance was not enough to convince the selectors that he deserves a spot on the team.
4. Ahmed Shehzad
The flamboyant opening batsman was touted as the next Pakistani batting great of the modern era but few disciplinary issues meant that he wasn’t able to retain his place in the squad. For the past year, there had been a debate among the analysts and fans about whether Shehzad should be recalled in the team. However, with Shehzad’s current form and his performance in the Pakistan cup earlier this year it was thought that the opening batsman will finally be given another opportunity to prove his worth. The selectors thought otherwise and yet again opted to leave Shehzad out of the team. With the kind of form, Shehzad has displayed, it can be said that the selectors have missed out an opportunity to capitalize on his momentum.
5. Salman Butt
A lot of people including yours truly felt that Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif, and Mohammed Amir shouldn’t be allowed to make their return to the side. Many people felt that it will set a bad impression and Pakistan should move on and find other players. While some people still feel that way, the return of Mohammed Amir means that it will be unfair if Salman Butt and Mohammed Asif are not allowed to do the same. All three players were convicted and all of them have since pleaded guilty and suffered their punishments hence, it is only right that the selectors move on and Judge Salman Butt and Mohammed Asif on the basis of their performance and based on performance Salman Butt has proved is worth in the final of the Quid-e-Azam trophy. Salman Butt scored hundreds in both innings of the final and managed to save the match for his team and helped them lift the trophy. Yet the selectors are still not convinced and want to wait before finally allowing the left-handed batsman to make his return.
Which player do you think deserved to be a part of the squad? Leave your opinion in the comments below and like always keep following GenY as we put the first step into a new year.