It has not been a good month for Pakistan cricket heading into the T20 World Cup. New Zealand left the country after pulling out of the ODI series hours before the toss and the England team refused to come and play in a two-match T20I series.
While this robbed the Pakistan players of some handy practice ahead of the T20 World Cup, it gave them the opportunity to organize the National T20 Cup and audition the players that were picked in the T20 World Cup squad.
A number of players failed and that forced the selectors to rope in replacements in the T20 World Cup squad. Shoaib Malik, Fakhar Zaman and Sarfaraz Ahmed are some of the names that are now in Pakistan's T20 World Cup squad. Considering the nature of the team, Pakistan is one of the favorites for the T20 World Cup. Here's a look at three key players who could be successful for Pakistan in the T20 World Cup 2021.
1) Babar Azam
Pakistan captain Babar Azam will be a key player at the top of the order. He's been in superb form in this format. In the National T20 Cup, the right-hander became the fastest batter to complete 7,000 runs in the shortest format of the game.
In 61 T20I matches, Azam has scored 2204 runs at an average of 46.89 and a strike rate of 130.64. Ever since he began opening the innings for Pakistan, the 26-year-old has provided solidity up front, and as per the situation, he can also drop anchor and go the distance.
His form and run-making abilities at the top of the order will go a long way in defining how the T20 World Cup pans out for Pakistan.
2) Mohammad Rizwan
Opening the batting with Babar Azam will be Pakistan's wicket-keeper batter Mohammad Rizwan, who has also been redefining his batting and approach in the shortest format.
In 32 innings, Rizwan scored 1065 runs at an average of 48.4 and a strike rate of 129. This year, the 29-year-old has scored the most runs in T20Is, racking up 752 runs in 17 matches at an average of 94 and a strike rate of 140.
The combination of Babar and Rizwan has hauled 736 runs at an average of 57 in T20Is and that makes Pakistan strong favourites for the T20 World Cup.
3) Shaheen Afridi
Leading the charge with the ball for Pakistan in the T20 World Cup will be Shaheen Shah Afridi. The 21-year-old will be crucial for Pakistan if they are to go all the way and clinch the title.
Afridi has been the best left-arm bowler in the world for a while now, and in 30 T20I matches, he has picked up 32 wickets at an average of 27.40 and with an economy rate of 8.17.
Also ReadArticle Continues below
His wicket-taking ability with the new ball as well in the death has made him the strike weapon for Babar. The UAE conditions will suit his skilset, and if reverse swing is a factor, Afridi, with his pace, can be a real threat.