Saeed Ajmal, who was banned during September, has a chance to make his return to international cricket with his selection in the World Cup probables © Getty Images
Saeed Ajmal, who was banned during September, has a chance to make his return to international cricket with his selection in the World Cup probables © Getty Images

Pakistan announced their 30 probables for the ICC World Cup 2015. The pool has no major surprises, with Sami Aslam being the only uncapped player. Saeed Ajmal also finds a place along with Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal. Nishad Pai Vaidya analyses the Pakistan probables.

Unlike their neighbours, Pakistan’s 30 probables for the ICC World Cup 2015 hardly made headlines. It was largely an expected group of players named in the side, those who have been in Pakistan’s plans for the last year. Barring Sami Aslam, all those named in the probables are capped internationals. This also tells you how much Pakistan have chopped and changed in recent times. Going into the World Cup, they would eye stability, with set personnel consistently going out to represent them. There may be a change or two, but the core of their side has to remain the same.

Perhaps the most noteworthy selection is that of Saeed Ajmal, who faces a race against time to get his action cleared ahead of the World Cup. Ajmal was banned earlier this year and has been relentlessly working with Saqlain Mushtaq to correct his action. Reports suggest that the off-spinner has made a notable correction, but may yet have some distance to go. The authorities are now pushing to get him tested as they need him ahead of the big event. There is also a word that he may be asked to play domestic cricket before making a return to the senior side.

The other important feature one may say is the inclusion of Younis Khan, who has returned to the one-day squad with a dominating run in Test cricket. His axing from the One-Day International (ODI) squad ahead of the Australia series caused quite a stir. He had been out of the ODI side for over a year and only returned during the tour to Sri Lanka. The unfortunate passing of his nephew meant that he could only play a solitary game, which wasn’t enough to judge him in the long run. Now that he is back, Younis needs to put in a good performance and assure confidence as Pakistan’s build-up intensifies.

Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik, two men who have been out of the side for a while, also find a mention. While Pakistan have a solid batting line-up and an in-form wicketkeeper-batsman in Sarfraz Ahmed, Akmal and Malik may not find it easy to break in. Both are still amongst the best players in Pakistan cricket and it is no surprise that they easily made it to the top 30. But they need to be very fortunate to have any chance of making it into the final 15.

As expected, Pakistan have numerous options in the fast bowling attack. It is only a matter of zeroing in on the best combination and maintaining it over the next few months. Misbah-ul-Haq and Waqar Younis will be at the forefront as they will have the task of building this team. Though they have done well in Test cricket of late, their form in ODIs has to improve. Nevertheless, the confidence can be carried into the green jersey and translated into noteworthy performances.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)