Pakistan’s squad selection for the World Cup is confused, with Wahab Riaz being the only one of their bowlers to have a clear idea of his role.
That is the view of Aaqib Javed, the former seam bowler, who also believes Pakistan’s selectors missed a trick by opting against taking a chance on rookie fast bowler Haris Rauf.
Aaqib was a World Cup winner with Pakistan in 1992. He says the current vintage lack the match-winners of that team and is concerned by the potential make-up of the bowling attack, which has so often been the side’s strength in the past.
Pakistan open their campaign against West Indies in Nottingham on Friday. They have endured a miserable run of form in the lead up to the competition, having lost 10 successive one-day internationals, and won just two out of 14 matches this year.
They responded to the malaise by cutting Junaid Khan, who played a key role in the 2017 Champions Trophy title win in England, from their final squad, and summoning instead an out of sorts Mohammed Amir.
Wahab was also brought in from the international cricket wilderness, and Aaqib believes his surprise call up could prove to be a smart move.
“If you look at the problems with Pakistan, especially the bowling attack, they have been struggling with new-ball bowlers,” Aaqib said.
“It has been 10 games and they have hardly got a single wicket in the first 10 overs. That is a problem.
“I am glad they included Wahab Riaz. It is not about how many bowlers you have and what options you have, you need to have the right composition.
“If you have two new balls, you need to have good swing and seam bowlers, who could take wickets early on. And you need to have at least two good death-overs bowlers, for when you are defending a target.
“They have only one guy who clearly knows his role, and that is Wahab Riaz.”
South Africa caused a surprise when they started the World Cup by using a slow bowler, Imran Tahir, in the opening match against England on Thursday.
It was the first time in the history of the World Cup a spinner had bowled the tournament’s first over, and it brought immediate success, as Tahir dismissed Jonny Bairstow with the second ball of the match.
Aaqib thinks Pakistan might benefit from a similar ploy, suggesting they should consider left-arm spinner Imad Wasim to bowl take the new ball.
“Hasan Ali needs a chance as he did really well in the Champions Trophy, but they seem quite confused about his abilities,” Aaqib said.
“Sometimes he is using the new ball, sometimes at the death. He is not a very effective new-ball bowler, and he needs to be used at the death, bowling wicket to wicket, when it is reversing a bit.
“If they have Wahab and Hasan Ali bowling at the death, it means they need two bowlers to use the new ball. I am really surprised Imad Wasim is not bowling with the new ball.”
Aaqib believes Shaheen Shah Afridi, one of the fast bowlers he coaches at Lahore Qalandars, is showing signs that he is still struggling with injury, while he has also championed the case of another, Rauf.
“I still believe [Rauf] could be the most effective bowler in Pakistan,” Aaqib said of a fast bowler who sparkled in his debut Pakistan Super League campaign this year.
“If you compare [19-year-old Mohammed] Hasnain and Haris Rauf, the difference is day and night. Their fitness levels, their accuracy, the consistency of their pace.
“I think they got excited with Hasnain’s pace, but I still believe it is too early for him. Bringing anyone into international cricket, that is not so big a deal. But bringing them into the World Cup squad, well that is a bit too much.”