Pakistan have named a new-look squad for the three-match Twenty20 International series against Windies in Karachi from 1 April. It will be the first time that international cricket will be played at the National Stadium in Karachi since 2009, due to the attack on the touring Sri Lankans’ bus, and the first T20Is ever to be played at the venue.
The games will be played on consecutive days – 1, 2 and 3 April – and Pakistan have rewarded cricketers who have put up strong performances in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), the franchise-based Twenty20 competition.
Three uncapped players – Asif Ali, Hussain Talat and Shaheen Afridi – have been picked in the 15-man squad based on their recent performances in the PSL. We take a closer look at them, see what they bring to the table:
The 26-year-old middle-order batsman from Faisalabad already has 78 Twenty20 games under his belt, and a batting average of 26.25 from those games. He scored 213 runs at an impressive strike rate of 169 for Islamabad United, helping them to the PSL title earlier this month. In the final against Peshawar Zalmi, he struck a 6-ball 26, a knock that contained three sixes, to help Islamabad to their second PSL title in three years. Ali’s big-hitting prowess could come in handy for Pakistan, and he could even end their longstanding search for a finisher.
The Lahore-born Hussain Talat impressed one and all during PSL 2018. The Islamabad United top-order batsman scored 201 runs at 33.50 and a strike rate of 131.37. He is just 22 years old, but has already played 30 first-class matches, 41 List A games and 43 T20s, and was part of Pakistan’s squad in the 2014 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup. Apart from his obvious ability with the bat – he has scored 751 runs in T20s so far – he chips in with the ball as well, and has picked up 13 wickets in the format. His all-round qualities could provide Pakistan with all-important balance.
A household name since his impressive performances at the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup 2018, the 17-year-old Shaheen Afridi’s rise continued in the PSL. He picked up seven wickets in as many matches, including an incredible 5/4 against the Multan Sultans while playing for the Lahore Qalandars. The left-arm fast bowler has already drawn comparisons with several international cricketers, with Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur even comparing him to Mitchell Starc. His ability to swing the new ball provides Pakistan an additional option in the pace department.