Cricket: Three Pakistan players to keep an eye on

By David Leggat

Wahab Riaz can be one of the world's best bowlers on his day. Photo /
Wahab Riaz can be one of the world's best bowlers on his day. Photo /

For every Aamer Yamin, Imad Wasim and Saad Nasim in Pakistan's limited-overs touring group, there's an experienced, well known, quality cricketer.

Those three are finding their feet in the international game, but there's plenty of skill among their team mates, who arrived in New Zealand yesterday.

Mohammad Amir's arrival, and return from disgrace for spot fixing has been well documented. But here are three other players worth watching...

Shahid Afridi

Will captain the T20 side, a format for which his talents are ideally suited. An extravagant personality, who spreads his arms wide to the delight of Pakistan fans whenever he takes a wicket. Afridi has been at this game longer than most. He made his ODI debut in 1996 at 16. His batting has long been hit or miss but if he's on, can be as threatening as any. His 102 off 37 balls against Sri Lanka at Nairobi in 1996 in his second ODI, remains the third fastest ever.

Scored 67 off 29 balls at Wellington in a pre-World Cup match last season. He's only listed for the T20 leg of the tour. His strike rate in the shortest form is 148.2, and if anything his fast leg spin can be more effective than his batting. The 35-year-old has played 87 T20s, the most by any player. With Brendon McCullum retiring on 71 matches, Afridi is well clear of active T20 players.

Wahab Riaz

The 30-year-old left armer from Lahore is in New Zealand for both legs of the tour. He can be seriously fast. His electric duel with Shane Watson during the World Cup quarter-final in Adelaide last summer was among the most memorable mano-a-mano confrontations of the cup. In 67 ODIs Riaz has taken 93 wickets at 30; in 12 T20s he's taken 11 wickets at 25.9. His problem has been consistency. But if he gets it right, Riaz can be a real threat.

Mohammad Hafeez

Classy top order batsman in New Zealand for a third trip. Plays all three forms of the game for Pakistan. However he won't be bowling his useful offspin in New Zealand, having been banned from bowling for a year after his action was deemed illegal for a second time since November 2014. The 35-year-old Hafeez averages 22.7 from his 68 T20s, with a strike rate of 115. He's made 11 ODI tons in 173 matches, at 32.13. When New Zealand played them in the United Arab Emirates late in 2014, Hafeez peeled off 94, 101 not out and 197 in successive test innings. He's also been the most vocal opponent of the recall of Amir. Now they're team mates in New Zealand. Watch the body language.

- NZ Herald

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