World Cup 2023 – 5 Pakistan Players to Watch Out for

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Pakistan is known as the most mercurial team in the history of world cricket, for they could lose to a team like Bangladesh but are equally capable of beating the world champions on their given day. That’s why their fans would often say, ‘You never know with Pakistan.’

In the upcoming World Cup, though they will have conditions to their liking, Pakistan is already struggling with injury issues. Naseem Shah, one of their tearaway pacers, is ruled out. The Pakistan fans would be praying that the rest of the top players will remain fit for the big event.

5 Pakistan Players to Watch out for in the 2023 ODI World Cup

Babar is the key to Pakistan’s batting hopes. Meanwhile, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, and Shadab Khan are the key players in their bowling department. Here are the five Pakistan players to keep an eye on in India: 

  1. Babar Azam
  2. Mohammad Rizwan
  3. Shadab Khan
  4. Shaheen Shah Afridi
  5. Haris Rauf 

Let us look at in brief the five Pakistan players:

 Babar Azam

The skipper is the key for Pakistan in the World Cup. The 28-year-old is already in the league of the best modern-day batters, with some of the fans already putting him in the league of former India captain Virat Kohli, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, etc.

Babar, who will bat at three, has the strength to play some long knocks on Indian pitches. He is a great puller and driver of pace bowling, plus he uses his feet against the spinners. If there is a turn on offer, which there will be, there are high chances that he can put the anchor down and go for his shots later in the innings.

In the recently concluded Asia Cup, he had hit a century and a couple of fifties before losing his form at the business end of the tournament. He has to show a little more consistency in the 2023 World Cup.

Mohammad Rizwan

Rizwan is a bit like Babar, but just a bit. He has a lower strike rate, but just a shade. Just like Babar, Rizwan believes in taking his time and going for his shots. Rizwan, alongside Babar, gives this middle-order stability since both the openers, Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq, can be inconsistent sometimes.

The wicketkeeper-batter, who has close to 1700 runs in ODIs, was in superb form in the recently concluded Asia Cup, where he registered scores of  44, 63, and 86. You can’t be in a better nick going into the multi-nation tournament.  

Shadab Khan

Shadab is the biggest asset in this Pakistani line-up. He can bowl quick overs with spin, and the 24-year-old can also bat well in the lower middle order. The all-rounder, who has four fifties to his name, is perfectly capable of winning matches on his own, much similar to what Abdul Razzaq used to do in the Pakistan jersey. 

When it comes to bowling, he has 83 wickets to his name. He is a street-smart cricketer and uses the flatter trajectory with perfection. It will come in handy on slow and lower pitches in India, where a batter can mistime him, getting dismissed in the process.

Shaheen Shah Afridi

Talk, express pace, and swing; talk Shaheen Shah Afridi. At 23, Afridi has shown immense maturity with the ball. Be it complementing his raw pace with late seam movement or bowling those slow-ball yorkers, he is lethal. The left-arm pacer is lanky and a southpaw, because of which he extracts good bounce and creates an angle for the right-hander, which is difficult to gauge.

Afridi’s strike rate with the new ball is just phenomenal. He has 86 ODI wickets, with a huge chunk coming in the powerplay. He picked up ten wickets in five matches in the recently concluded Asia Cup. With Pakistan missing Naseem Shah, Afridi will be more responsible for delivering with the new ball, and he has rarely disappointed the Pakistan faithful.

Haris Rauf

If Afridi’s weapon is swing, then Rauf has pace by his side. He lags when it comes to swing, but when it comes to pace, Rauf is the man. The pacer got the nod in the Pakistan side following his global T20 exploits, and he made his international debut in January 2020 against Bangladesh. 

Rauf has permanently established himself in the playing eleven in the short time that he has played. In Nassem Shah’s absence, Rauf is expected to rise to the challenge. His ODI record exudes confidence – 53 wickets in 28 ODIs, including a fifer against Afghanistan in 2023. 

Concluding Thoughts

Pakistan is still a strong team despite Naseem’s absence. Don’t count out Pakistan; they bring out their best when cornered. Pakistan had faltered in the World Cup ODI  and was on the brink but won the trophy. In the T20 World Cup 2021, they were beaten in the semi-finals, while a year later in Australia, they managed to reach the final despite being on the verge of a knockout. 

They are expected to find heroes for pressure situations. And the likes of Babar, Rizwan, Shadab, Afrid, and Rauf are always dependable.