February 3, 2020 11:09:01 pm
Abbas Afridi (Right-arm medium pacer): A strapping fast bowler, he might not push the speed gun to its outer limits, but has plenty of variations to torment batsmen. He has a well-disguised slower ball, leg-cutter and a skiddy bouncer, all allied with stifling accuracy and an awareness of the situation that belies his age. The highest wicket-taker for Pakistan in this campaign—nine wickets at 14–he is also a resourceful hitter down the order. The lad from Fata will be keen to make amends for the caning he got in the U-19 Asia Cup final at the hands of Indians batsmen last year.
Mohammad Haris (Middle-order batsman): Pakistan’s man for the crisis—little wonder that he idolises the irrepressible Misbah-ul-Haq. He usually comes down the order and starts counter-punching straightaway. In the group game against Zimbabwe, he hammered 81 off 48 balls to help Pakistan post a respectable total. He can modulate his innings like few others in the side—he can stonewall as well as carnage the bowlers–and has a variety of strokes at his disposal. Watch out for his pulls, his favourite shot. He’s also their best six-hitter.
Tahir Hussain (Left-arm medium-pacer): Though from Vehari—the village in Punjab that produced Waqar Younis and Mohammad Irfan—Tahir Hussain grew up idolising Mohammad Aamir. He never had any formal coaching but developed the game watching the footages of Aamir. His action is slightly different, he is more round-arm though he has carefully groomed his hair like Aamir’s wavy locks. He also has a wicked inswinger to the right-hander and doesn’t bleed easy runs, as his economy rate of 3.72 testifies.
Haidar Ali (Opening batsman): Pakistan’s most experienced batsman—he has already established himself as North Pakistan’s opener. Departing for 99 on his Test debut, he went on to score a couple of hundreds in the 12 innings, including a stroke-laden 134 against Central Punjab that featured Test discards Aizaaz Cheema, Ehsan Adil, Faheem Ashraf , and Bilal Asif. Though he hasn’t quite replicated the form in the World Cup, he could turn on the show in the knockouts. An off-side-savvy batsman, expect gorgeous drives through covers.
Mohammad Wasim (Right-arm pacer and lower-order batsman): The youngster from North Wazirastan started off as a medium-pacer, but later realised that he has incredible ball-hitting abilities. He can tee straight away, which he did during a whirlwind 20-ball 55 against Kuwait last month. But it’s bowling that he wants to focus, and is fast emerging as a canny bowler at this level. He’s not express pace, but can rankle batsman with his stifling line and length. He can keep bowling on the spot ball after ball. His choke tactics frustrated Scotland, against whom he took five wickets for just 12 runs.
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