The ideal Pakistan ODI cricket team includes…

Published: March 27, 2013

It should be a criminal offence to keep Nasir Jamshed, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq on the bench.

Pakistan needs a new One Day International (ODI) cricket team, and it needs one now. This can’t go on.

It should be a criminal offence to keep players like Nasir Jamshed, Umar Akmal, and Asad Shafiq on the bench. Nasir played the first three ODIs, Asad played only the first, and Umar played none!

Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik must go!

There’s absolutely no way that Misbah or Whatmore or anyone within the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and team management can justify the exclusion of the above players while Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik continue to enjoy a “no questions asked” run in the ODIs for Pakistan.

Umar Akmal is currently Pakistan’s top ranked ODI batsman and the only Pakistan batsman in the Top 20 of the ICC Rankings. Yet he fails to find a place in the team. In his last 20 ODI innings, Umar Akmal has scored 618 runs at an average of 36.35 with seven 50s!

How does anyone with that sort of record in the last year find himself out of the team?

Compare that to the last 20 ODI innings of Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik and one can’t help but curse Misbah and Whatmore for keeping Pakistan’s future on the bench and playing those who are well past their prime in ODI cricket.

Younis Khan: 420 runs at an average of 22.11 with three fifties.
Shoaib Malik: 318 runs at an average of 18.70 with zero fifties.

The problem with both Younis and Malik is not a recent one, which is why it angers me even more to see them part of Pakistan’s ODI set-up.

Younis has never been a good ODI player. His test credentials are unmatchable, but as number three in the ODIs for Pakistan he has largely been a failure. A career average of 31 and only six centuries in over 250 ODIs for your country while batting at number three does no justice to a player of Younis’ calibre.

I reckon he should have left the ODIs a long time ago.

Malik’s is a different story. He has just not been the player that he used to be. Once an amazing ODI batsman for Pakistan, he seems to have lost the plot.

The last time Shoaib Malik scored anything more than 40 was his 128 against India in September 2009. That is his only fifty plus score in the past 3.5 years, and since then Malik has been an utter failure and deserves to be dumped into oblivion.

Misbahul Haq needs to move on

There is no doubt that Misbah has done a great job captaining Pakistan since the time he took over in 2010 right after the spot fixing scandal. However, this great job has been done in Test cricket.

It was a regressive step to make Misbah captain of the ODI and T20 team and take the reign away from Afridi. It’s been a regressive period for Pakistan’s ODI team ever since.

Misbah has played a tremendous role anchoring innings after innings in ODIs while wickets fall around him, however, he isn’t good for the ODI team. We need young and fresh legs, we need our future batsmen to be playing more ODIs, and we need to build a team that can be competitive in 2015 because no matter how hard Misbah tries there is no way he will be playing a World Cup at the age of 41.

Even if he was winning ODI after ODI for Pakistan, I would strip him of the ODI captaincy just for keeping talents like Umar, Asad, and Nasir off the bench.

Shahid Afridi’s time is over

I’ve been Afridi’s biggest supporter over the past decade and it’s very hard for me to say this but his time is also over. I have always believed that Afridi, first and foremost, is a bowler; whatever he does with the bat should be considered a bonus.

He has lost his magic charm and his ability to pick wickets regularly. He was the best bowler in the ODIs in the world for five years, but he no longer is. Age is catching up with Afridi and he doesn’t pose any threat to international batsmen anymore.

I know it will break millions of hearts to see Afridi leave the game, but I guess he can continue entertaining us in Pakistan colours in the T20s and in the various T20 leagues around the world.

Other players who shouldn’t play ODIs

Imran Farhat, Kamran Akmal, and Umar Gul are also players that need to be forgotten once and for all.

I fail to understand how Gul has managed to play for Pakistan for a decade!

He is at best a super T20 bowler, but in the ODIs and even in Test matches he has barely delivered.

Kamran Akmal is probably the most debatable out of all the players mentioned given that he has finally found some batting form, but we’ve kept him for much longer than we should have.

It is time to find and groom a new wicket keeper who is also an effective batsman.

Imran Farhat has hardly been an international opener. With openers like Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad around, Imran Farhat should be nowhere close to the squad, let alone the XI.

Now let’s talk about players who should make up Pakistan’s ODI squad.

New ODI Captain: Mohammad Hafeez

With Misbah out of the picture, Pakistan will need a new ODI captain; the obvious choice is Mohammad Hafeez.

Hafeez has shown that he can carry the bat with responsibility when leading the side. He showed that during the World T20, in the series against India, and the only T20 against South Africa. There is no doubt in my mind that he should lead the ODI team as well. He has ample captaincy experience and has been Pakistan’s most successful opener since the heydays of Saeed Anwar.

The openers: Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali

Jamshed is one for the future and I still can’t believe that Misbah and Whatmore decided to dump him after three ODIs against South Africa. He should open for Pakistan in every game and should be given the license to play his natural form of defensive cricket.

Ahmed Shehzad never deserved to be dropped.

He paid the price for being part of the “Shahid Afridi camp” and has remained out of favour with Misbah, much like Umar Akmal. There have been talks about disciplinary issues and attitude problems, again like Umar Akmal, but he is too good a talent to be wasted because of all that.

Having made another comeback, albeit in the T20s once Hafeez became captain, Shehzad has shown us what Pakistan has been missing. There can’t be a better partner for Nasir than Ahmed Shehzad at the top of the order for Pakistan.

Azhar Ali has a very good ODI record and averages over 40 in the 14 ODIs that he has played for Pakistan. He is not an attacker but yet, he is extremely solid and Pakistan can do with his services; with Misbah and Younis out of the picture.

Azhar should be in Pakistan’s ODI squad as the reserve opener.

The middle order; Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail and Sohaib Maqsood

Umar is by far Pakistan’s best ODI batsman and has been for the past three years, while Asad was in the form of his life during the Test series against South Africa. How these two cannot make it to Pakistan’s playing XI is bemusing to say the least.

Haris Sohail was unlucky to leave the South Africa tour midway due to an injury. He has been the best batsman in domestic cricket for the past several seasons and deserves to be given a long run in the middle for Pakistan.

Sohaib Maqsood is relatively unknown but he has had a major resurgence as a batsman in the past season. He is a decent off spinner as well. Given the form he is in, Sohaib should walk right into Pakistan’s ODI team. In his most recent List A match he knocked his first List A century in a whirlwind knock off; 156 of only 95 deliveries including 10 sixes and 13 fours.

The all-rounders; Hammad Azam and Anwar Ali

Hammad Azam  hardly got to play when he was part of Pakistan’s T20 and ODI squads, when he did he showed his immense talent, and then one fine day he found himself out of the team. His bowling requires a lot of work and it will develop with time. It is his hard to bat the way that Pakistan requires.

Hammad is the ideal batsman to provide the sort of impetus to the innings that the likes of Razzaq have in the past. His bowling is medium pace at best but he has the ability to pick up wickets regularly.

The other potential all-rounder that Pakistan will do well to invest in is Anwar Ali. The boy who rocked India’s boat in the U19 World Cup final back in 2006 had turned out to be quite a fine bowler and hard hitting lower order batsman. He’s got the potential to fill in the vacant all-rounder’s spot in Pakistan’s ODI line-up.

The spinners: Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman and Raza Hasan

Abdur Rehman has found it difficult to get a game in the presence of Ajmal, Afridi and Hafeez. With Afridi moving on (hopefully), Rehman should be considered as a starting choice to partner Ajmal and Hafeez in ODIs.

Raza Hasan had an extremely impressive World T20, but has been out of commission due to injury since then. He needs to be promoted from T20 cricket to ODIs as well. Pakistan should focus on providing him with as much exposure as possible.

The fast bowlers: Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Asad Ali and Sadaf Hussain

There is no argument over the fact that Junaid and Irfan are Pakistan’s leading pacers at the moment. I would seriously like to move on from Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir and Mohammad Sami.

Asad has 85 wickets in only 45 List A games at a remarkable average of 19 and strike rate of 25.8; while Sadaf has 25 wickets in 15 matches at an average of 23 and strike rate of 30.6. Their first class records are even more impressive.

It is time that Pakistan invests in these new pace bowlers and takes us back to the times when Pakistan’s pacers used to be feared all around the world.

The wicketkeeper: Mohammad Rizwan

This was the toughest person to pick largely due to the lack of talent on the domestic circuit.

What Pakistan need is a wicketkeeper, who not only bats well, but bats aggressively.

The reason I’ve gone with Muhammad Rizwan is because he’s only 20-years-old, has an impressive domestic record (average of 44 in first class cricket) and had the second highest number of dismissals in the Faysal Bank One Day Cup.

Pakistan’s ODI pool of players

Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Azhar Ali, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Sohaib Maqsood, Hammad Azam, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Rizwan, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Asad Ali, Sadaf Hussain, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman and Raza Hasan — if these 18 names are not part of the 30-man preliminary squad that the PCB is supposed to announce soon for the Champions Trophy, it will be extremely disappointing.

My ideal XI to start with would be:

1. Nasir Jamshed

2. Ahmed Shehzad

3. Mohammad Hafeez

4. Umar Akmal

5. Asad Shafiq

6. Hammad Azam/Sohaib Maqsood

7. Muhammad Rizwan

8. Anwar Ali

9. Junaid Khan

10. Saeed Ajmal

11. Mohammad Irfan

Pakistan will play two ODIs against Ireland and two ODI against Scotland prior to the Champions Trophy, which is the ideal time to try out the new ODI combination.

It is time to invest in the youth!

What would your ideal XI look like?

Read more by Umair here or follow him on Twitter @WellPitched


Umair Qazi

An investment advisor in Dubai who blogs at and tweets @WellPitched

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • SAK

    Azhar Ali????

    Is he your relative?Recommend

  • Muhammad Abdullah

    afridi;hafeez;yasir hameed;ahmad shazad;ajmal;nasir;umar akmal;junaid;irfan;anwar ali;hamad azam;Umar Gul;Raza Hasan;Asad Shafiq……..Recommend

  • Gangs of Wessy Pur

    Brilliant article.
    Umair: you have written my heart. Pakistan is ranked at 6th in ODIs, and it is utterly due to poor selection policies.
    I am so happy that you included Asad Ali and Sadaf Hussain. It is so heartening to see that these players were dropped without a single chance, whereas Farhat, Younis, and Malik are playing in this team for ages without any substantial contributions.Recommend

  • Gangs of Wessy Pur

    Some other players that are good for future: Shazaid Hasan, Usman Salahuddin, and Fawad Alam.Recommend

  • Shadab(India)

    perfect what great team unbeatableRecommend

  • A. Khan

    It would easier to list the players the ODI team should not have.Recommend

  • Daani

    In my view, an entire overhaul will actually hurt the team.
    Partially agreed!Recommend

  • http://google yousaf

    pakistan team need youngest player pakistani player played in this time age is
    misbah-ul-haq 38 year old
    yoinus khan 37 year old
    muhammad hafeez 32 year old
    shoaib malik 31 year oldRecommend

  • Kashif Manzoor

    Ahmed Shehzad
    Nasir Jamshed
    Asad Shafiq
    Harris Sohail
    Umar Akmal
    Mohammad Hafeez
    Hammad Azam
    Kamran Akmal
    Usman Qadir
    Junaid Khan
    Mohammad Irfan

    I would make Hafeez play at 6 as an allrounder, and include Usman Qadir, who has a lot of potential as a leg spinner, who can also bat. Ajmal should be saved for test cricket, and we should groom Qadir and Raza Hassan for ODI and T20.

    I would stick to Kamran Akmal as a keeper for now because there is no one on the domestic circuit with his batting ability at present.

    Also, Hafeez goes through too many bad patches and is not a dependable player outside of the sub continent or against top quality bowling attacks, therefore I would not make him the Captain.

    I would instead make Nasir Jamshed the ODI and T20 Skipper and make Hammad Azam his deputy, much like South Africa did, when they made Smith the skipper. We should back Nasir and he will help us build a good young ODI side which will be hard to beat as they gain in experience and skill.Recommend

  • Abdullah

    As exciting as this young team sounds, don’t the changes seem too radica all at oncel?

    I agree on Younis, Malik, Afridi, Kamran any day of the week.

    BUT BUT ……

    Without Misbah, Pakistan would have been beaten by South Africa 5-0. His two innings in winning matches chasing were crucial.

    You can’t go into a major world tournament by changing the captain at the last minute for the 4th time, no wonder Pakistan have only managed semi finals since 2009 Champions Trophy. Inexperienced captains get exposed in the bigger matches.

    2010 T20 WC = Afridi named captained 2 months before tournament after much speculation
    2011 WC = Afridi only confirmed as captain 2 weeks before tournament ahead of Misbah
    2012 T20 WC = Hafeez with only 5 matches of captaincy experience leading the side
    2013 CT = You want to replace Misbah for Hafeez at the last minute?

    Hafeez invariable struggles in conditions outside Asia, especially in Tests and ODIs. His record is clear on that.

    Misbah is Pakistan’s finest 21st century leader who has captained in 67 internationals. Only 5 of 33 national captains have led Pakistan to more international wins or captained Pakistan in more games and they are:

    Imran Khan
    Wasim Akram
    Inzamam ul Haq
    Javed Miandad
    Waqar Younis

    You mention Misbah’s promotion to ODI captaincy being a regressive step, but he has won 6 series and lost 4 along with an Asia Cup triumph. 2 of the series wins have come against higher ranked opposition which were the 2011 World Cup finalists and 2011 World Cup winners. None of the previous 5 captains: Malik, Younis, Yousuf, Butt, Afridi managed series wins against strong ODI sides like Misbah either because they blew their chance when they came about or weren’t stable enough in their position to maintain captaincy or in the case of Salman Butt badly abused the privilege of captaining his country in the worst way thinkable.

    There are certain countries where you can have split captaincy without it causing problems. Pakistan is not one of them. Misbah is a once in a generation leader by Pakistani standards in terms of intellect, individual performance, education, stability, continuity, results, being naturally identified as a leader from very early on, discipline, professionalism, commanding the respect of the team. We shouldn’t try to get rid of him so easily and he should be encouraged to stay on. The team could really do with making best use of his services and there’s every chance of him carrying on for another 22 months and becoming the 2nd 40 year old to captain Pakistan at a World Cup Campaign.

    A strong test captain generally makes a strong captain full stop. Just ask Imran Khan. You only become a strong captain once you lead in test matches. Pakistan can ill afford not to have a strong captain. It’s one of the reasons Imran said Afridi would never be able to become a strong captain as he ran away from the honour of test captaincy, during his 2011 WC post match analysis Imran said this. Hafeez is not the right choice as test captain. His place in the test side is under immense threat.

    Only Misbah, Hafeez and Ajmal should be the senior players in the ODI side with a bunch of youngsters. I wouldn’t play Gul in the final XI but would keep him in the reserves.

    Lastly, Ahmed Shehzad. He averaged 8.8 in the 5 matches he played in the 2011 World Cup including 3 of them against minnows with a strike rate under 50. There is nothing that I have seen which proves to me he is a better ODI player now than he was then. Let him focus on T20 for now. He would have been found out had he played this ODI series. Recommend

  • sensible

    strange that Imran Farhat has just scored match winning hundred in 4th ODI and you still opt for Ahmed Shehzad who more of a T20 player. It is quite shameful when you say that Umer gul has no place in ODIs, Gul is one of best death bowlers in the world. One bad series don’t mean to drop your star bowler. And about Malik, for your information, Malik played major part in both Pak victories in ODI series against SA. Problem is, he is not been utilized properly, if he bats at No 4 or 3, he could score big. You can’t expect him to score centuries coming in at No.7 or 8.Recommend

  • Syed

    Nice article. It makes sense so most likely PCB won’t consider most of these changes. Whatever happened to the fast bowler Zia ul Haq. I thought he was one of the rising stars but haven’t heard about him lately.Recommend

  • Fawad

    I think Ahmed Shehzad and Asad should be given more chances to show their batting.
    In bowling, Anwar Ali and Junaid should be played in every match as they are young and energetic.

    Younis khan should be out as he dropped catch and poor batting.
    Imran farhat only performs in domestic. He shouldn’t be given any more chances as young players like Ahmed, Asad and Hammad cannot come.

    Younis, Kamran akmal and Imran farhat should now depart from team and Shoaib malik needs to improve if he wants to be in team.Recommend

  • ad

    Spot on bro excellent article
    Completely agree with you Recommend

  • Khaksar

    You fail to understand that in cricket…its a squad. A well knit group, rather than a motley bunch of talented players good in their own respect.Recommend

  • Asjad

    Naive :)!Recommend

  • Hassan

    I know we have desperate times but we don’t have to that desperate …… you dont have to mass change the team or you can end up with bangladesh or whatever

    my team

    2-kamran akmal
    4-asad shafiq
    6-umar akmal
    7-hammad azam
    8-saeed ajmal
    9-sohail tanvir

    anwar ali and rizwan should be looke at ….and please azhar ali is not ODI material he is worse than younus and misbah Recommend

  • AZKhawaja

    Decent article, barring a few points.

    On what basis should Hammad be selected? Has done nothing of note with either bat or ball in domestic cricket.

    On what basis should Misbah be axed? Age argument is not good enough, his performance speaks for itself.

    Why 3 genuine spinners when you also have Hafeez in the side? Its just overkill which we have already suffered with continuously picking Afridi.Recommend

  • 80s

    Very well written and well thought article.
    I totally agree with you, but, I am not too sure about Shoaib Malik. The guy was out of cricket for a long time and now that he is back, he plays at number 7 and he is still 31. For obvious reasons he couldn’t score big but none the less still has a lot of potential. Having said that, I believe in a series as big as champions’ trophy we defiantly do need big names. Not only that they are match winners on a good day but we need big guns on the field. We need more confidence on field, someone who’s been there and seen it all, to pull the team together when needed. Hafeez is a genius, no doubt about that, but a bit of support can do magic. I would say, keep Akmal senior, unfortunately, Mh. Rizwan is way too young. He needs good grooming before being exposed to a series like this; otherwise you’ll waste another talent, like Hassan Raza, Imran Nazir.
    Misbah, Afridi, Gul, Younis defiantly need to call it a day. Imran Farahat, Taufeeq Umer, Mh. Sami, these guys should seriously stay as far away from this sport as possible. No commentary, no couching, nothing. Recommend

  • Maroof Khan

    Imran Farhat has scored match winning hundred in 4th ODI and you still and he also played well in the last test against south africa. he deserve the place all formit of the game. it is his unfortunately that his father in law were a selecter. Problem is, he is not been utilized properly, if he given regular chances and give him some confidence, i think he will defenetly perform well. final squad for champion trophey are;-
    Imran Farhat
    Ahmed Shahzad
    Nasir Jamshaid
    Muhammad Hafeez
    Asad Shafiq
    Shoaib Malik
    Umar Akmal
    Shakil Ansar
    Umar Akmal
    Umar gul
    Anwar Ali
    Muhammad Sami
    Usman Qadir
    Saeed Ajmal
    Junaid Khan
    Muhammad IrfanRecommend

  • Jila Watan

    I dont think its a right time to change the ODI team captain. The Champions Trophy is just 2 months away. Its a big ICC event, and its not wise to replace Misbah. South Africa tour was a very tough assignment for Pakistan but we gave South African a very tough time specially in limited overs cricket. Yes we did made some mistakes but mistakes do happen in Sports.

    In your article the author written that M hafeez is the obvious choice for captaincy, May I ask on what basis you want him to captain the side? He didnt performed well, scored only 118 runs in 5 innings.. he always throw his wicket after scoring 20’s and 30’s which cannot be categorized as Responsible knocks.. Recommend

  • Ayaan Ali

    Nasir Jamshed
    Ahmed Shehzad
    Umar Akmal
    Asad Shafiq
    Hamaad Azam
    Kamran Akmal
    Raza Hasan
    Junaid Khan

  • moazzam

    Umair Qazi Sahab, after reading your self opinioned article, my only question: Who are you?Recommend

  • HRK

    Misbah even at this age is much fitter than most of our youngsters; I can’t see how he can’t play past the age of 40.
    Azhar Ali is pure test material; He needs to be kept there.
    What’s the basis for making Hafeez the ODI captain and dropping Misbah altogether from the team? Have you seen his overseas batting statistics?
    Who told you Misbah calls the cards and Ahmed Shahzad is left out because he supported Afridi?
    Wahab Riaz is a genuine pacer who consistently can bowl in 90 MPH zone. He’s been wasted in lieu of spot fixing case and his underuse in the series resulted in such an abysmal performance. Give him a long run and he should be able to deliver.

    All in all we need to make our domestic setup better and as Hafeez has rightly pointed out we need to make better pitches so that we could learn how to play on bouncy/pacy wickets. Check Cricinfo for that article on his suggestions.Recommend

  • shaukat

    Most of your team selections and justifications are based on an aggressive approach after loosing a series to the worlds best team in test and good one in ODI. The ODI series did however go close. Until this test series SA and PAK had the same records going in, it still has to be seen what happens in the return series in UAE at the end of the year. They had home advantage of bouncy fast track, Pak will home advantage with turning wickets in UAE.
    Starting with your captain Hafeez, hes been found out by the SA bowlers, in fact i would call him Steyn’s bunny, it is clear that he is a flat wicket bully and lacks technique to play outside the sub continent, a selfish player whos ego is bigger then anyone, his real beef with Misbah is that he is not willing to play down the order, he doesn’t deserve a regular place in the team as a batsman, his bowling helps him to get in.
    Lets talk about Malik, i am not his greatest fan but hes the only player who has a silent contribution in almost every game Pak has won since his return, no!!??, pick out the score cards starting from England in uae, India and so on, his is the name you will see in the match winning partnership. You talk about domestic performances, he is the winning captain in the domestic championships in all three formats in 2012, yes all three, and in those the man of the match in t20 an odi finals. When you talk about letting go of Younis and Misbah, you need to keep a player who can keep it all together when things go wrong in the batting department, and they often go wrong with Pakistan batting. There is no doubt youngsters need to be infused into the team but with a due process, not at the cost of being competitive, Jamshed is an outstanding find but was not able to perform on fast bouncy tracks, the other you name have the same problems so they need to be given exposure to the fast tracks in a planned approach where a few of them fill in the holes which need to be immediately filled. The people you want to be axed are the same players who have performed well in international tournaments, i think the upcoming champions trophy should decide who stays and who goes. Some of these boys like Afridi are seeing a drop in form but like they say ‘form is temporary but class is permanent’, they have the exposure to play in England for the trophy, this is not the time to experiment.
    Your observations and team selection are based more on emotions than calculations and i can assure you that there are smarter heads in the selection panel who will prove you wrong. You do however have a bright future in Geo supers “Bolain kya baat hai” as a co-host or maybe as a regular caller.
    We can keep this chopping and cutting till after the champions trophy. :)Recommend

  • imran

    (1) Nasir jamshed (2) Ahmad Shahzad (3) Hafeez (4) Asad Shafeeq (5) Umar Akmal (6) Haris Sohail (7) Mohammad Rizwan (8) Ajmal/ rehman/ raza (9) Anwar Ali (10) Junaid (11) Irfan

    (12) Ehsan adil (13) MaqsoodRecommend

  • Hussain Razzak

    all said well, but its sad how you make Hafeez the captain of the team. When you talk about stats check his stats. The guy is the opener of the team and his average is 27, WOW!!
    whats the harm in Afridi then, i dont think Hafeez deserves any position in the team…pakistan needs a real opener/batsman not part timer batters like hafeez….also reagrding afridi i would say he has the dominated the pakistani bowling since the last five years and its really sad how people are commenting on his retirement. even tendulkar is going through tough time, no one treats their national stars like the way we do…..was it fair to take away captaincy from afridi at the first? the guy is still fit and i think he should lead the ODI and t20 once againRecommend

  • http://facebook mohsin shafi

    my ideal pakistan cricket 1 nasir jameshad 2 imran farhat 3 mohammmad hafeez captan 4 kamran akmal wk 5 umar akmal 6 shahid afradi 7 saeed ajmal 8 zulfiqar babar 9 junaid khan 10 ehsan adil 11 mohammad irfan Recommend