Pak beat India in a thriller in the Super 4 match in the Asia Cup on 4 September 2024. The win was important in many ways. Babar Azam failed for the third game in a row. The Pakistan skipper’s failure allowed the team’s middle order to get time in the middle.
Nawaz Named Man of the Match
Md Nawaz was named man of the match for his all-round showing. In a high scoring game, he conceded only 24 runs in his four overs and took the wicket of Suryakumar Yadav. Sent up the order to counter India’s leg spin bowlers, Nawaz scored 42 from only 20 balls.
He was involved in a 73-run stand for the 3rd wicket with M Rizwan. The partnership took the match away from India after they had restricted Pakistan to 63 for 2 in the 9th over.
However, this is not the first time Nawaz has played a brilliant cameo for Pakistan in his fledgling international career of 33 matches. In December 2021, his 30 from 10 balls helped Pakistan to 200/6 versus the visiting West Indies. When West Indies batted, Nawaz took 1/24 to help bowl out the visitors for 137.
Pakistan Have Variety and Balance
Pakistan can now field a team that bats deep and has six bowlers. The presence of two left-handed batters in the eleven is a bonus.
The variety and balance of the eleven is almost as good as India’s. Players like Khushdil Shah and Asif Ali can slide up and down the order depending on the match situation. The spinners include a regular leg spinner (Shadab Khan) and a left arm orthodox bowler (Nawaz).
The pacers include a left-arm fast bowler (Afridi), and three right-arm fast-medium bowlers (N Shah, Dahani and H Rauf).
Four Young Stars in the Making
Four Pakistan youngsters have caught the attention of cricket observers with their great performances in the Asia Cup. These are Naseem Shah, Khushdil Shah, Dahani, and Shadab. Though Shadab is a known figure in international cricket, he is only 23 years old.
He has already played 67 matches in which he has grabbed 79 wickets with his leg spin. Importantly, he has an impressive strike rate of 17.7 and an economy rate of 7.04. Like Nawaz, Shadab has played some useful cameos down the order.
Like Shadab, Dahani’s main role is that of a bowler. In the first Asia Cup match against India on 28 August, Dahani – batting at number 11 – hit 16 runs off only 6 balls. His knock gave Pakistan an outside chance of winning a low-scoring game.
Twenty-four-year-old Khushdil Shah has played only 16 T20Is in which he has averaged 26.55 with a strike rate of 115. His 35 not out against Hong Kong on 2 September will be remembered for a long time to come. His 15-ball knock contained five sixes, including consecutive sixes off the last four balls of the Pakistan innings.
Naseem Shah is the child prodigy of Pakistan cricket. Given an international cap at age 15 in 2019, the teenager made history. He became the youngest player to take a test hattrick, a feat he accomplished against Bangladesh in February 2020.
With his ability to bowl fast and furious spells, Shah has a brilliant international cricket career ahead of him. Shah showed plenty of that ability in the first match against India. He sent shock waves through the Indian dugout by giving KL Rahul a first-ball send-off.
Pakistan’s Best Possible Eleven
I have compiled a list of the best eleven that Pakistan can field at the T20 world cup 2024. They are Babar Azam, Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, K Shah, Nawaz, Asif Ali, Dahani, Shadab, Naseem Shah, Afridi, Rauf.