Champions Trophy preview: Pakistan

A dangerous fast bowling unit and an inspirational new skipper makes Pakistan contenders

The squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Azhar Ali, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Fahim Ashraf, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Shadab Khan

The fixtures: June 4 v India, Edgbaston; June 7 v South Africa, Edgbaston; June 12 v Sri Lanka, Cardiff

Best result: Semi-final – 2000, 2004, 2009

The talking point: While they haven’t played ODI cricket for some time, the international retirements of veterans Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan officially end one era of Pakistan cricket and signal the start of another. Azhar Ali had been the ODI skipper but now the reins belong to enterprising wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed. If Pakistan play with the same aggression, flare and occasional brilliance as their skipper then exciting times are afoot.

Sarfraz scores fifty in SCG Test

The one to watch: Babar Azam appears to be the next batting giant for Pakistan. The 22-year-old has an average of 55.08 and no Pakistan batsman has scored as many centuries as Azam’s five after their first 26 ODIs. He’s in good nick, too, having scored an unbeaten 125 against the West Indies last month. There’s a few thrilling young batsmen in the Champions Trophy and Azam is right at the top of the list.

Brilliant Babar scores fourth ODI ton

The pressure is on: For a number of reasons, it’s Mohammad Amir. Firstly, he returns to the UK where he was exposed as a spot-fixer in 2010. Although he fronted up to English crowds when he made his cricket comeback last year, there will undoubtedly be a frosty reception for the left-armer during the tournament. Secondly, Amir is Pakistan’s spearhead and his side will be relying on top-order wickets from the 25-year-old. In the 15 ODIs since his return, Amir has captured 20 wickets at 34.50 and that strike rate and average needs to improve, and should, in helpful conditions.

Amir removes Smith for a golden duck

Mike Hussey’s verdict: They’re always a handful, no matter what. They’re very talented cricketers, so you can never discount them. Pakistan play on emotion and they play on momentum. Once they get their momentum going they’re extremely hard to stop. You’ve just got to be really wary of someone like Pakistan because they’re so talented and really hard to beat. 

Champions Trophy 2017 Guide

Squads: Every Champions Trophy squad named so far

Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh.

Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.


Warm-up matches

26 May – Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval

27 May – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Edgbaston

28 May – India v New Zealand, The Oval

29 May – Australia v Pakistan, Edgbaston

30 May – New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston

30 May – Bangladesh vs India, The Oval


1 June – England v Bangladesh, The Oval (Day)

2 June – Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (D)

3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)

4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)

5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)

6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)

7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)

8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)

9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)

10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)

11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)

12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)

14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)

15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)

18 June – Final, The Oval (D)

19 June – Reserve day (D)

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