World T20 2016 Preview: Will Pakistan's bowlers shine on the sub-continent?

Pakistan's chances will lie firmly with their bowlers as they try to lift the World T20 trophy for the second time.

World T20 2016 Preview: Will Pakistan's bowlers shine on the sub-continent?
(photo: zimbio)

Will they, or won't they? All of the pre-tournament hype surounding Pakistan has circled around whether or not the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will pull the plug on their campaign before it's even started. The PCB have threatened to pull out of the competition if they're not given assurances about the safety of their cricket team. 

A tournament without one of the previous winners? 

Pakistan dropping out of the tournament would be like France pulling out of the 2018 football World Cup after already starting their training camp, absolutely ludicrous. The International Cricket Council are confident of the tournament going ahead as planned with all of the scheduled teams taking part. Without the 2009 champions the tournament just wouldn't be the same and the backlash for them would be huge with the chance of being ostracised from future tournaments.

Bowlers the key 

If Pakistan are to go deep in the tournament then their bowlers will have to carry the majority of the burden on their shoulders. With a trio of first-class left-armers in Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz they have the fire power to dismantle any batting line-up in the world. Riaz is one of the fastest bowlers in world cricket, and the spell where he peppered Shane Watson in the 2015 50-over World Cup was one of the best in recent memory. 

But 23-year-old Amir is certainly the one to watch with his ability to swing the ball back late to the right-hander at pace. The youngster is firing on all cylinders since his return to competitve cricket, following his ban for bowling no-balls at predetermined times during the infamous Lord's Test in 2010. 

Amir's reintegration into the side didn't go smoothly at first with both Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali boycotting a pre-series training camp and stating they wouldn't join the squad until Amir was sent home. But the left-armer made his return to international cricket on January 15 against New Zealand and hasn't looked back since. A hat-trick for the Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) was the pick of the lot. 

And in the recently concluded Asia Cup, which India won, he finished with seven wickets in four games at an average of just over 11. 

Shehzad called up 

On the eve of the tournament, opener Ahmed Shehzad replaced Khurram Manzoor due to the latter's poor form in the Asia Cup. The top order was their greatest cause of concern during the tournament with Hafeez, Manzoor and Sharjeel Khan scored just 94 runs between them in Pakistan's four games in the competition. 

Shehzad was previously dropped for his inconsistency but has regained his spot after scoring 290 runs in ten knocks in the PSL at a strike-rate of 143.56. 

A chance for Butt? 

In light of Pakistan's persistent issues at the top of the order, former captain Salman Butt would have been a capable choice at the top. The opening batsman is eligable to play international cricket after completing his ban for being the ring leader in the spot fixing scandal. Butt smashed 536 runs at 107.20 in the National One-Day Cup to finish second in the runscorer list behind Kamran Akmal. 

Although, it's unlikely Butt will ever get an international recall despite impressing in first-class cricket. Severe questions would be asked of the selectors if he was allowed to put on a Pakistan shirt again, after his role in bringing the game and country into disrepute and rightly so.