Pakistan ICC World Cup 2023 Squad

Pakistan is a strong contender in the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup. Playing in the sub-continent conditions Pakistan will utilise their strengths to the fullest.

Pakistan ICC World Cup 2023  Squad
Dillip Mohanty

Written by: Dillip Mohanty

(Sports Editor)

Last updated: 2023-09-28

An overview of the Squad

The Pakistan team has had a brilliant run in the ODI format in recent times. They are ranked second behind India in the ICC ODI men’s team rankings. Pakistan Cricket Board has announced a strong squad for the 2023 Cricket World Cup in the aftermath of the recently concluded 50-over Asia Cup which did not go too well for the co-hosts.

Pakistan squad for World Cup 2023

1.    Babar Azam (c)
2.    Shadab Khan
3.    Fakhar Zaman
4.    Imam-ul-Haq
5.    Abdullah Shafique
6.    Mohammad Rizwan
7.    Saud Shakeel
8.    Iftikhar Ahmed
9.    Agha Salman
10.    Mohammad Nawaz
11.    Usama Mir
12.    Haris Rauf
13.    Hasan Ali
14.    Shaheen Afridi
15.    Mohammad Wasim jnr.

Pakistan has the best top order batters in the World Cup

Babar Azam will lead a World Cup side for the first time after being part of the previous edition under the captaincy of Sarfaraz Ahmed. Azam has featured in 108 ODIs and has scored over 5000 runs with 19 hundreds to his name. Appointed skipper in 2020, his batting average as skipper is 66.12 with 8 hundreds coming off his bat when he has led the team.

Babar is also the 4th batter in the world to score over 1100 runs since 2022. Fakhar Zaman (947), Imam-ul-Haq (953) and Mohammad Rizwan (829 runs) are the next Pakistanis to appear in the list. These three names support Babar well who bats at 3 for the country. The opening duo of Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman with Abdullah Shafique in the wings have given a tremendous start to the team, game after game. The Pakistani opening pair’s batting average of 43.6 is only second to India since 2022. If the numbers of top 3 batters are considered, the average gets even better at 49.7 and is the best in the World.

TOP ORDER (POSITION 1-3) BATTING AVERAGEIN ODIS SINCE 2022.png

With teams like India struggling to find a proper number 4 batter right before the big tournament, Pakistan have slotted Rizwan in that position. The ever-reliable wicketkeeper-batter has scored 691 runs in 18 innings batting at 4 since 2022 with an average of 49.35. Abdullah Shafique (twice), Agha Salman, Shan Masood and Saud Shakeel (once each) are the other batters who have batted at that position in some circumstances since the aforementioned period.

 

 

Pakistan's fragile middle order batting

The middle order (number 4-7) has failed to build big partnerships and heavily relies on the top 4. In 23 matches, the Pakistan middle order has scored 2185 runs losing a wicket after scoring 34.1 runs. Pakistan’s opponents would be aiming to get early breakthroughs and then attack the middle and lower order.

Iftikhar Ahmed has played only 12 games since 2022 and has scored 358 runs with his maiden century coming in the 2023 Asia Cup tournament. His form is a good concern for the depleting middle order. The management has trusted Saud Shakeel ahead of Shan Masood as the left handed middle order option but Shakeel has only featured in 6 matches after making his debut in 2021 making him an uncertain choice for an automatic spot.
 

Pakistan's spin heavy all-rounders

Iftikhar Ahmed is a handy part time off spinner making him a genuine all-round option besides Shadab Khan, Agha Salman and Mohammad Nawaz. In 19 appearances, Iftikhar Ahmed has bowled in 14 games and has taken 12 wickets at an average of 40 with a 5-wicket haul against Zimbabwe coming back in 2020.

Pakistan have groomed the young Salman Agha as an allrounder.  He bats in the lower middle order and bowls off spin. Making his debut last year, he has scored 436 runs averaging 39.63 with 3 half centuries. In 13 bowling innings he has only picked 4 wickets at an average of 88.25. In both departments, Pakistan needs more from him.

Pakistan's all-rounders for 2023 World Cup

- Iftikhar Ahmed
- Agha Salman
- Saud Shakeel
- Shadab Khan
- Mohammad Nawaz

Entering in his 2nd World cup, leg spinning allrounder Shadab Khan will have added responsibility on his shoulders as the lead spinner and someone who can contribute with the bat at a healthy strike rate. In 16 ODIs since 2022, he has scored 300 runs at a strike rate of 111.5. With a modest average of 30, the Pakistani middle order will expect some responsible innings from him. Shadab's bowling record since 2022 hasn’t been extraordinary. In 16 innings, he has taken 21 wickets at an average of 35 and a strike rate close to 40.

Another contender for the allrounder’s position is left hand batter and left arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz. Making his ODI debut in 2016, Nawaz has only featured in 32 matches where he scored 325 runs at 18 per innings with a strike rate of 90. 2022 was his best year as a bowler where he picked up 11 wickets, the most he has taken in a calendar year. In 10 matches of 2023, Nawaz has picked up 9 wickets but with a concerning average of 43.22 and a strike rate of 50.7. With Shadab’s average and strike rate also dipping since the past year, the spin department will have to do with some extra overs from Iftikhar and Nawaz if the wickets are difficult to get by in the middle overs. 
 

Blunted middle over bowling

Always known for producing innumerable fast bowling talent, the team’s bowling attack will be led by the left arm seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi. He is aided by right arm pacemen Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Wasim jnr.

Rauf has been in a tremendous touch since 2022. In that period, he is Pakistan’s leading wicket taker with 39 wickets taken at an average of 22.64 and an equally brilliant strike rate of 24.4. Eleven of those wickets have been picked in the first powerplay, 15 wickets in the middle phase and 13 in death overs. His numbers in all three phases are excellent making him a bowler to whom the skipper can turn whenever the team needs a wicket in any situation.

Leader of the pack Shaheen Shah Afridi has featured in 16 ODIs since 2022 and has a brilliant average of 21.33. He takes a wicket every 23.9 balls and has picked up 33 so far. His ability to take early wickets in any conditions makes him a perfect bowler to have in the side. However he wasn’t at his best in the recent outings in the Asia cup and after conceding 79 runs in the Super 4 match against India, conceded another 52 against Sri Lanka. Those 2 games would have definitely tampered with his confidence. A strong comeback is needed from one of the best left-arm seamers the world has.

With Naseem Shah who was the preferred third seamer in the line-up ruled out due to injury, the selectors have given Hasan’s white-ball career another lifeline at the big stage. Hasan Ali, who just played 7 ODIs after the 2019 World cup is the surprise inclusion in the lineup. He will be joined by Mohammad Wasim jnr who made his international debut last year and has impressed with his pace and accuracy. In 16 matches, he has taken 24 wickets with his average clocking at 26.7 and strike rate touching 30.

Usama Mir made his debut versus New Zealand this year and was part of a couple of ODIs against Afghanistan played before the Asia cup. In those games, he was hammered for 79 runs for one wicket in 13 overs. Overall, he has played 8 matches and taken 11 wickets. His average and strike rate both lie in the mid 30s. He is selected in the team as a like-for-like replacement for Shadab Khan but hasn’t shown the batting ability which his senior possesses.

Pakistan’s overall bowling strike rate is amongst the best in the world. With a wicket falling every 31.3 balls, they are only behind India and Sri Lanka. New Zealand and Bangladesh along with India have a better strike rate in the first powerplay where Pakistan have picked wickets every 37 ball.

Bowling Strike Rate in Middle Overs ODIs since 2022 SB.png

The strike rate worsens in the middle overs, sliding down to 40.1 balls. The reason could be the use of spinners/allrounders who fail to pick wickets at regular intervals. Shadab has taken 21 wickets, the most for a Pakistani in middle overs with Nawaz to follow (18 wickets. There isn’t much confidence amongst the other slow bowling options. Haris Rauf is the next best taking 15 wickets in the middle stage.

Death bowling doesn’t seem the issue for the team. Pakistan is only behind Bangladesh in terms of balls per wicket in the final 10 overs since 2022. With a bowling strike rate of 14.8, the bowlers have picked up 67 wickets in 20 innings at an economy of 7.2. Since the beginning of 2022, Shaheen has taken 18 wickets with Naseem who misses out selection due to injury coming next. Haris has taken 13 wickets at the death. Making the fast bowlers deadlier throughout the innings. It is the spin department which still needs to tick some boxes.

 

 

Pakistan schedule for ICC World Cup 2023

October 6: Pakistan v Netherlands, Hyderabad, 2 pm
October 10: Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Hyderabad, 2 pm
October 14: Pakistan v India, Ahmedabad, 2 pm
October 20: Pakistan v Australia, Bengaluru, 2 pm
October 23: Pakistan v Afghanistan, Chennai, 2 pm
October 27: Pakistan v South Africa, Chennai, 2 pm
October 31: Pakistan v Bangladesh, Kolkata, 2 pm
November 4: Pakistan v New Zealand, Bengaluru, 10:30 am
November 11: Pakistan v England, Kolkata, 2 pm

If Pakistan qualifies for the semi-final, they will play in Kolkata on November 16 from 2 pm.

Final Words

With the tournament set to be played in similar subcontinent conditions of India, the Pakistan team will have a slight advantage over other countries. They were the number 1 ODI team as recently as few days ago. They last won an ICC event back in 2017 and reached the semi-finals of the 2021 T20 World cup. 

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Dillip Mohanty

Dillip Mohanty

Dillip has over two decades of experience in creating sports content. As the Sports Editor of SportsBoom, Dillip brings in a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. Dillip has worked with leading sports broadcasters and sports web content portals in Asia. He is an adept storyteller and has a special liking for data stories. He has a keen interest in data analysis and uncovering insights from large datasets. He loves to tell the story with rich and compelling data visualisation.

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