Pakistan's selectors have decided to make two very important changes to their 15-man squad for the upcoming ICC 2019 World Cup. Pacers Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir, who were not included in the provincial squad declared earlier, have been brought in after the dismal showing by other bowlers in the 5-match series against England.
In the four completed ODIs against the World Cup hosts, Pakistani bowlers conceded 340+ totals in each one of them. To make it worse, England were the chasing team in three of those. The fourth ODI saw the men-in-green squander a golden opportunity to register their first win by letting England recover from a difficult situation.
Selectors realising the dangers
These games proved the need for experience and more skill in the Pakistani line-up and the selectors, led by Inzamam-ul-Haq, have decided to revert to the two most skilful bowlers they have in reserve. Mohammad Amir bowled a magnificent spell in the Final of the last major ICC event – 2017 Champions Trophy – which won the match for his team. Wahab Riaz, on the other hand, is known for the ability to bowl hostile spells, like the one delivered against Australia in the quarter final of 2015 World Cup. Both are also capable of reverse swinging the ball.
Apart from the pace bowling duo, the other notable inclusion was of batsman Asif Ali who made his case by showing the ability to hit big shots lower down the order. The three players who were removed from the provisional squad to make way for these three were Junaid Khan, Faheem Ashraf and Abid Ali.
Junaid is the only player whose exclusion can evoke slight surprise since he had played a key role in Pakistan's winning campaign in the Champions Trophy two years ago. Otherwise, Faheem's performances haven't been that impressive and Abid Ali, being a top-order batsman, had to make way for the hard-hitter Asif Ali who fits in nicely in the lower order.
Whether Riaz and Amir can change the fortunes of Pakistan's bowling, only time will tell. But the chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq was blunt in stating that the abilities of the bowlers make their inclusion necessary.
"The bowling unit during the England ODIs has not clicked as anticipated or expected. If we have at our disposal two vastly experienced pace duo (sic) of Amir and Wahab, then it will be foolish not to include them," the former captain stated.
If you thought Pakistan were an unpredictable side in the past, they are likely to remain even more so in the days to come. Only God knows what to expect from them in the upcoming 10-team event.