Over the years, numerous blockbusting, world-beating T20 players have materialized out of Pakistan cricket's circuit. A team acclaimed for its prowess in the shorter format, Pakistan has enjoyed an abundance of T20 specialists in its rich cricketing history.
Several glorified superstars and heartthrobs of the nation have bowed out from the game - being replaced by the ingenious and blooming talents that Pakistan Cricket keeps dredging up every year.
For a great chunk of the last three years, Pakistan have dominated the ICC T20I Rankings - reigning supreme at the top for an astonishingly long period of time. The downfall, however, was nigh when Men in Green suffered a humiliating T20 series whitewash at the hands of a second-stringed Sri Lankan side, that too, in their own backyard.
Sarfraz Ahmed, the skipper who has been at the centre of Pakistan's unbeaten, world-record run, was removed from captaincy and axed from the national side.
Under the new leadership of Babar Azam, Pakistan began to regroup and rebuild a T20 side in the rear-end of 2019. A home series against Bangladesh and a PSL season wholly organized in Pakistan helped give that impetus to the national side in form of some sparkling young cricketers.
Babar's Pakistan now face their first major challenge in their bid to relocate and regain the lost days of glory of Pakistan's T20 Cricket. In this article, we shed light on three players who are part of Pakistan's battalion for the three-match series against England and who can take the Three Lions by storm.
3 Pakistan players who will look to impress
Pakistan have always been blessed with a handful of skilful pacers in the shortest facet of the game. The likes of Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, and Mohammad Amir are just about the most prominent names in this incessantly long list of fast-bowlers that Pakistan have churned out in the T20 era.
The spotlight now seems to have shifted towards a trio of young pacers, a member of which is the 20-year old Mohammad Hasnain.
Hasnain first featured for Pakistan in U-19 Cricket and burst through the age groups to make his domestic Cricket debut in 2018. In the 2018/19 PSL season, the prodigious Hasnain was brought in as a replacement for Naseem Shah, another sparkling young talent who missed out due to an injury. The Hyderabad-born Hasnain did not disappoint and made the most of the opportunity - picking up 12 wickets in 7 appearances. The notable highlight was his death bowling and a wonderful tournament economy of just a shade over 7.5.
Arguably the fastest bowler in Pakistan at the moment, Hasnain caught the eye of the selectors rather quickly. It was his ability to clock mid 150s and to swing the new ball at that pace that saw him being fast-tracked into the limited-overs sides for Pakistan. He was handed his ODI debut versus Australia in the Emirates and made his first T20I appearance in England, just before the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Hasnain was then picked up for the Caribbean Premier League by the Trinbago Knight Riders. His CPL stint, however, was cut short as the PCB called him back for a training camp. The short stint in the Caribbean was enough to impress, though, as the pacer picked up six wickets in four outings.
The highlight of the quick’s career has, undoubtedly, been his hat-trick against Sri Lanka in October 2019. Hasnain became the youngest ever to take a hat-trick in a T20 international game.
In the recent 2019 PSL, Hasnain was the leading wicket-taker with 15 scalps in nine games before the tournament was postponed due to COVID-19. Hasnain hasn't had the best of starts to his international career but he has improved colossally over the last 15 months and can provide that X-factor for Pakistan in the upcoming T20I series.
A teenage Shadab Khan initially caught the eye of PSL franchises in the 2016 U-19 World Cup where he featured for Pakistan as someone who could decent bowl leg spin and bat handily in the lower order. Shadab, a prodigious turner of the ball, then burst onto the competitive scene during the 2016/17 PSL season. He was picked up by Islamabad United and impressed massively - his ability to take wickets while maintaining an excellent economy rate saw him becoming a household name in Pakistan and even earned him a CPL contract.
For the Trinbago Knight Riders, Shadab excelled with both bat and ball. He bossed the middle overs for the Knight Riders with the ball, picking up 12 wickets in eight outings at a startling economy rate of just 5.75. He also chipped in when required with the bat - earning the praise of his teammates, including Brendon McCullum.
The 21-year-old has 48 wickets in 40 games in T20Is at an economy of just a touch over 7. He has also received six man of the match awards with his man of the match on debut being the highlight. The Mianwali-born leg spinner played a crucial role in Pakistan's Champions Trophy-winning campaign in 2017 and was a central part of the Pakistan side that reigned the ICC T20 Rankings for more than two years.
Shadab also possesses leadership qualities and is renowned as a gun fielder. He was named the Islamabad United captain for PSL 2020. The all-rounder led from the front and showcased his revolutionized game with the bat. Shadab amassed 263 runs in 8 games at a strike rate of nearly 160 - notching up 3 half-centuries in Pakistan's premier T20 competition.
Shadab is already a mainstay in Pakistan's white-ball teams and is consistently evolving his game to suit the national side's needs. He is an incredibly talented, all-round cricketer and could prove to be a thorn for England in the upcoming T20I series.
Pakistan haven’t had a plethora of exciting batsmen coming through the ranks over the last few years. This year, however, the Pakistan Super League unearthed a sparkling young talent in Haider Ali.
The young willow-wielder was a revelation in his very first appearance in Pakistan’s landmark T20 league and quickly became one of the success stories. His bravado-like approach towards batting assembled a lot of praise from both former cricketers and analysts.
Before debuting in the PSL, Haider featured in his maiden Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the first-class competition in Pakistan, where he amassed 645 runs at a staggering average of 50. The 19-year-old starred in the Final where he made an astonishing 134 runs against a top-quality bowling attack of Central Punjab. He was then called up to represent Pakistan in the Emerging Teams Asia Cup that Pakistan went on to win.
Haider also showcased his immense talent in the U-19 Cricket World Cup and enjoyed similar success - leaving a mark with a nicely-crafted 56 in the high-voltage semi final against arch-rivals India. Seeing his blossoming potential and promise, Haider was then picked up by Peshawar Zalmi for the PSL.
It was at the PSL where Haider’s career really took off. He turned up for the tournament as an emerging talent with the bat and left as someone who is deemed to play for Pakistan for a number of years to come. The Attock-born youngster scored 239 runs at an average of 30 and a sizzling strike rate of 158.
At such a tender age of 19, there is already a lot of expectations attached with Haider. His debut in international cricket is looming just around the corner and he will be itching to stroll out into the Emirates Old Trafford against England and don the greens of Pakistan soon.Published 28 Aug 2020, 14:21 IST