Former champions Pakistan hope that pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi is fully recovered for the T20 World Cup in Australia to return to his devastating best. Injured in the first Test against Sri Lanka in July, the 22-year-old received clearance to rejoin the squad on Tuesday. In addition to this week’s tri-series in New Zealand, he missed the Asia Cup and a T20 series against England. After completing an extensive rehabilitation program in London, the towering left-arm fast bowler will jet off to Australia, where he will play two warm-up games in Brisbane the following week. Read out the complete details about T20 World Cup down below.
T20 World Cup | Shaheen to shine against India
The first of these will be against England on Monday when he will be looking to recapture his rhythm. Next Wednesday, Pakistan will play Afghanistan as a final tune-up before their opening match on October 23 against India at the massive Melbourne Cricket Ground, which is estimated to draw 90,000.
In the T20 World Cup last year in Dubai, Shaheen annihilated India’s top order by taking out Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli for 3-31. Pakistan cruised to a 10-wicket triumph. Pakistan beat India for its first World Cup victory. It paved the way to the semi-finals, where they eventually fell to the eventual winners in Australia.
Pakistan had beaten Bangladesh and the West Indies 3-0 in the Twenty20 series, lost to Australia again in a single Twenty20 in Lahore, and advanced to the final of the Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates, where Sri Lanka defeated them. They lost the home series to England by a 4-3.
Pakistan started the current tri-series against Bangladesh and New Zealand with two wins but fell to the Black Caps in game three on Tuesday. In addition to Shaheen, Pakistan’s bowling assault includes the rapidly improving trio of Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, and Mohammad Hasnain. Leading the spin quartet is leg-spinner Shadab Khan, who is joined by off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed, leg-spinner Usman Qadir, and left-armer Mohammad Nawaz.
Despite having the prolific Azam and Mohammad Rizwan at the top of the order, Pakistan’s middle-order batting has remained a weakness. When Azam scored an unbeaten 110 and Rizwan made 88 not out against England in Karachi last month, the pair set a new record for the highest chase without losing a wicket in Twenty20 internationals. However, the team’s batting vulnerability is exposed if the tandem goes down quickly.