If Zeeshan Ashraf and Khushdil Shah can fire in this tournament, it will provide some solution to coach and chief selector Misbah ul Haq. Pakistan lack a late order power hitter and a keeper-batsman who can score quickly in T20. These two are the most apparent holes in an accomplished T20 side.
The keeping position has been up for grabs ever since Sarfaraz Ahmed was sacked as skipper of the number 1 T20 side. Zeeshan Ashraf showed some glimpses in the HBLPSL but needs to do more. Fakhar Zaman would be looking over his shoulder after another middling series in England.
Khushdil Shah played one of the most impressive innings of the HBLPSL. However, that wasn’t enough for him to break into the T20 side with Shoaib Malik and Iftikhar Ahmed being preferred. Reportedly he has been working on his left-arm spin as well. The Zimbabwe series would present an excellent opening for Misbah to try the left-handed duo out.
Another left-hander, Hussain Talat would also like to push his case. He was becoming a regular under Micky Arthur before Misbah dropped him for Ahmed Shehzad/Umer Akmal. Saif Badar has been talked highly for many years but hasn’t really shown it on this level yet. This might be his chance. Another person hoping to make up for lost time would be Zahid Mehmood. In the second eleven, the Lahore Qalandars duo Agha Salman Ali and Dilbar Hussain would hope to be called up for the first team.
The team perhaps have to punch above their weight to take the title. Shan Masood has shown tremendous improvement in recent times. Can he win the cup and take the confidence in the battle for the HBLPSL Title?
Southern Punjab 1st 11 Squad: Shan Masood (captain), Hussain Talat (vice-captain), Aamir Yamin, Ali Shafiq, Bilawal Bhatti, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Ilyas, Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali (subject to fitness), Saif Baddar, Sohaib Maqsood, Umer Khan, Umar Siddiq Khan, Zahid Mehmood and Zeeshan Ashraf (wicketkeeper).
Support Staff: Shahid Butt (manager), Abdul Rehman (head coach), Aizaz Cheema (assistant coach), Khawaja Rohail Ali (trainer), Mohammad Tayyab (physio), and Mohammad Faisal Rai (analyst)