Pakistani cricketers celebrating during a match. Pakistani cricketers celebrating during a match.

Nervy Pakistan to take on confident looking USA side

A vulnerable Pakistan side, with players out of form, an undecided batting order, and a few fitness concerns, will start their 2024 T20 World Cup campaign against the hosts USA in Dallas, Texas. On paper, this shouldn’t be a contest by any means, but with Pakistan, you never know what’s coming next. They have made a habit of losing to sides they shouldn’t in ICC events, with Zimbabwe beating them in the 2022 T20 World Cup, and Afghanistan getting past them last year in the ODI World Cup, a team Pakistan never lost an ODI match against. To add to that, USA’s remarkable run-chase against Canada in their opening game will surely make Pakistan uncomfortable going into the game.

The leadership duties were handed back to Babar Azam after Shaheed Afridi was removed from captaincy after just 5 games. However, the fortunes didn’t change one bit as apart from beating Ireland 2-1, Babar’s side was unable to beat a second-string New Zealand side at home, drawing the series 2-2, and suffered a 2-0 thrashing at the hands of England in the warm-up series prior to this tournament.

The co-hosts USA got a massive boost of confidence before the tournament due to a stunning series win against Bangladesh and winning their first game against Canada emphatically chasing a big total.

Pakistan on the other hand have been unable to get proper training sessions, let alone an actual warm up game. Rain in Dallas over the last week have kept the team away from outdoor sessions. To add to their concerns, Babar is facing a major setback as all-rounder Imad Wasim is set to miss the game due to side strains.

All other talks aside, Pakistan’s struggle to find the perfect opening pair still remains the hottest topic. Since the 2022 World Cup, numerous combinations have been tried, however, one way or another, the pair of Rizwan and Babar appears to be the only viable option as Saim Ayub hasn’t been able to deliver as per the expectations, and Fakhar Zaman does not seem to be in the plan to fill the opening slot.

For USA, Aaron Jones would be the man to bank hopes on after the heroics against Canada. Jones will certainly be a threat for an Imad-less Pakistan spin attack. Shadab’s form with the ball has been poor to say the least and Abrar Ahmad hasn’t been given any chances leading up to the tournament. Azam Khan’s place in the playing XI is a big question. His experience of the CPL makes him an automatic choice, however, he hasn’t done any justice to his talent in Pakistan colors.

USA on the other hand are free from any injury scares following their game against Canada, and with the match going to be played at the same venue, they aren’t expected to make any changes to their side.

There has been loads of rain prior to the tournament, however, it has stayed away for the most part of the last three to four days. The pitch at the venue has offered decent bounce and carry along with seam movement early on in the innings and the two highest-scoring games so far.