Pakistan need to identify select group of players before World Cup: Shoaib Malik

Pakistan need to identify select group of players before World Cup: Shoaib Malik

"Fakhar Zaman is a very important player for us."

Shoaib Malik
Shoaib Malik. (Photo Source: Instagram)

For Pakistan, times are not easy just months before the ICC World Cup. Ranked quite low in ICC’s ODI table, the 1992 champions lost their second successive Test series recently against South Africa and not many are ready to give them a chance in the 50-overs version either. Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side will take on the Proteas in a five-match ODI series starting Saturday and a lot of the side’s preparation for the mega event in England will depend on how things shape up in the current series.

A crucial member of the Pakistani ODI side will be veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik who feels the team has to identify a core group of players who will make it to the World Cup squad. The Men in Green are still in the middle of experimenting with players to find that right combination for the big stage. The 36-year-old who plays only limited-overs cricket now said Pakistan have a bunch of good players who can prove to be handy in the World Cup and spoke particularly about Fakhar Zaman, one of the side’s frontline talents who have come up fast over the last year and half.

Fakhar Zaman needs to play natural game, feels Malik

Zaman, the 28-year-old left-hand opener, has done exceedingly well in the ODIs but not so much in the longer format and was dropped after failing to impress in the first two Test matches against the Proteas. Malik backed Zaman’s utility in the Pakistani side for the WC, telling Cricbuzz on Friday: “Fakhar Zaman is a very important player for us and his target is to play his natural game which is quite similar to how David Warner plays or how Virender Sehwag or Shahid Afridi played in the past.

I have told him that he needs to stay at the wicket more because his presence scares the bowlers.” Zaman is the fastest batsman to score 1,000 runs in the ODIs and also the first Pakistani batsman to score a double century in the 50-overs format. A veteran of 274 ODIs with over 7,000 runs and 150 wickets, Malik said: “I think the best thing is to find your product and stick with a selected bunch of players who have the confidence that they are going to play the World Cup.”

The cricketer, who recently had his first child with Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, his wife, said Pakistan will look to show consistency in the ODI series – in both batting and bowling departments. The first ODI will be played at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth and it’s a day-night fixture.

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