Fakhar Zaman, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Wahab Riaz – half of Pakistan’s T20I team is will be playing under Mohammad Rizwan. If last year the balance was tilted towards Central Punjab, this year, it has to be Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In what seemed quite a strange decision, the combined experience of over 850 matches of Wahab, Malik, and Hafeez were selected to play for last year’s semi-finalists. No other coaches of other regions weren’t happy.
Add to the fact that the senior support cast and junior crop coming through isn’t too shabby either, KPK is perhaps the pretournament favourites. Mohammad Rizwan might struggle in T20Is but at this level, he can bat in the middle order and play at his own place. Sahibzada Farhan a year or two ago was one of the brightest batting talents coming through. Mohammad Mohsin has all-rounder capacity with some mystery spin. Arshad Iqbal showed some tenacity on the flat wickets of PSL. Whereas, you can also bank on Usman Khan Shinwari and Junaid Khan.
Apart from a top-class spinner, KPK has all basis covered. It could be time for Mohammad Mohsin to shine with his trickery. Rizwan as captain would also like to further push ahead with his claim to be the top T20 wicket-keeper batsman in the country. But given the squad he has, it will be difficult to see how he bats in the top 4.
As you can see they have the problem of plenty. Hence why for many KPK are the clear favourites.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 1st 11 Squad: Mohammad Rizwan (captain, wicketkeeper), Junaid Khan (vice-captain), Arshad Iqbal, Asif Afridi, Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imran Khan Snr, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Haris (wicketkeeper), Mohammad Mohsin, Sahibzada Farhan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Usman Khan Shinwari, Wahab Riaz and Zohaib Khan.
Support Staff: Farrukh Zaman (manager), Abdul Razzaq (head coach), Aftab Khan (assistant coach), Imranullah (trainer), Rehan Khalid (physio), and Waleed Ahmed (analyst).