Pakistan

  • Last Updated: September 19 2012, 11:50 BST

We take a look at Pakistan's squad, key players and hopes at the ICC World Twenty20.

Saeed Ajmal: Key man for Pakistan

Group D Fixtures:
September 23: New Zealand at at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, 1100 BST
September 25: Bangladesh at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, 1500 BST

Overview: Pakistan are difficult to predict because they are so erratic, but tend to come good in a tournament format. Unlike other big sides who do well all year round and then stumble when a trophy is at stake, Pakistan often pull good form out the hat when it matters.

They won the tournament in 2009, finished second in 2007, and lost by three wickets to Australia in the semi-finals last time out. They may stumble along the way, but they always seem to find themselves involved at the business end of these events.

They're coming off a 2-1 series win over Australia, having won the first two matches by miles and then lost the third in equally comprehensive fashion. Twas ever thus. Of the eight T20Is they've played this year, they won four, and all were played on the sub-continent.

They will be confident going into the tournament, despite losing the final game to the Aussies, as long as they wrap Saeed Ajmal in cotton wool, as he was once again the standout performer in the UAE as well as in the series before that against Sri Lanka.

Strengths: Pakistan have a superb bowling attack, and with spin twins Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez operating on tracks that help their cause, the group stage will be tricky for New Zealand and Bangladesh. Their pace attack isn't to be scoffed at either, with Umar Gul one of the overall leading bowlers in the tournament's previous editions. Sohail Tanvir's unusual action, and the pace it generates, unsettled the Aussies and will do the same to the opposition in Sri Lanka.

Weaknesses: The batting looks way short of top quality. Certainly it doesn't match the quality of the bowling. Skipper Hafeez has admitted that Pakistan's ability to chase down a decent total is not as good as he'd like, demonstrated by their 94-run loss in Dubai recently. They needed 169 to win, not an outlandish score, but were all out for 74, and none of the batsmen made more than 20. The three other games they lost this year were all a case of falling short in the chase. A lot is said about wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal's form behind the stumps as Pakistan's ongoing search for a reliable gloveman continues to go round in futile circles.

Six-hitter: Shahid Afridi. It's testament to Pakistan's batting woes that the oft-retired and unpredictable Afridi remains their likeliest batting match-winner. His record in T20I cricket is surprisingly mediocre, but he does boast a 140-plus strike rate and the crowd volume is sure to increase when he makes his way to the crease and starts whirling his bat like a maniac.

Strike bowler: Saeed Ajmal. Picking a batsman to watch may be tricky, but there are no such problems in the bowling department. Incredibly the three leading wicket-takers in T20 internationals are all in this Pakistan squad with prolific mystery spinner Ajmal just leading the way from Umar Gul and Afridi. At the moment, though, there's no doubt that Ajmal is the star man after an outrageous year in which he has obliterated a variety of batting line-ups in all three formats.

One to watch: Umar Akmal. Still only 22 years old but in T20I terms a veteran with 34 caps to his name, the hugely talented right-handed strokemaker is surely better than his record in this format suggests. With Pakistan's hopes likely to rest on how well their batting line-up can support their stellar bowling line-up then Umar Akmal could be one of the tournament's key players.

Squad: Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Abdul Razzaq, Asad Shafiq, Imran Nazir, Kamran Akmal (wk), Mohammad Sami, Nasir Jamshed, Raza Hasan, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Yasir Arafat.