ESPNcricinfo on Sunday named their players for the Test, ODI, and T20 teams of the year, and its no surprise that Pakistani skipper Babar Azam and pace sensation Shaheen Shah Afridi have made the cut.
Babar features in the ODI and T20 squads, whereas Shaheen was named in the Test and T20 sides.
Read on to find out who else from Pakistan qualified for the teams and why.
Test Team of 2021
ESPNcricinfo has put India’s Rohit Sharma, who scored centuries against England at Chepauk and The Oval, and who they have termed the “heaviest-scoring opener of the year” on the top spot, with Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne as his opening partner.
Karunaratne, run record wise “was only four runs behind, having made hundreds against South Africa, Bangladesh (twice) and West Indies”, said ESPNcricinfo.
At the third and fourth spot are Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne, the new topper in the ICC’s Test rankings, and England’s Joe Root, the man who was dethroned.
“Root, also the captain of our Test XI, hit six Test hundreds in 2021 and broke Michael Vaughan’s record for most runs in a calendar year by an Englishman,” said ESPN.
Fawad Alam, one of three Pakistanis to make the team, comes in next. After his long overdue Test recall, Alam has continued his “fine run”, as put by the publication, with three hundreds.
India’s Rishabh Pant’s “heroics in Australia” and in his side’s home series against England “earned him the gloves”, ESPN said.
It noted that India’s spinner R Ashwin “couldn’t get a game for India in England but still finishes 2021 as the year’s leading wicket-taker”.
Pakistan’s Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi, along with England’s Robinson and New Zealand’s Jamieson were the pace quartet named for the side.
ODI team of 2021
Coming in at number one for the ODI side is Ireland’s Paul Stirling. He was the leading ODI run scorer in 2021 after starting the year with three hundreds in five innings in Abu Dhabi.
Alongside him is Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman, followed by Babar Azam who has been given the honour of leading the team.
South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen has been named in the no 4 slot, “having shown off his versatility and his boundary-hitting ability against the quicks”, ESPN notes.
“Bangladesh stalwarts Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim complete the middle order”, it adds.
Up next is Sri Lanka leggie Wanindu Hasaranga, “who did not reach the same heights he did in T20 cricket in the 50-over version of the game, but still made three punchy fifties with the bat and bowled with control”.
“The top two wicket-takers of the year, Sri Lanka quick Dushmantha Chameera, extracting good bounce and regularly hitting speeds of 90mph or more, and Ireland offspinner Simi Singh, bowling at 3.67 runs and over, also make it to the ODI team,” said ESPN.
Bangladesh seamer Mustafizur Rahman who was seen to be in form at home and Ireland’s Josh Little “who confirmed his status as Ireland’s most promising young quick for a generation” complete the attack.
T20 team of 2021
ESPN chose Pakistan’s “record-breaking opening pair”, Babar and Mohammad Rizwan, terming them the “obvious choices” to be the captain and wicketkeeper for the T20 side, in another matter of pride for Babar.
England’s Moeen Ali’s “all-round exploits for Birmingham Phoenix, Chennai Super Kings and England” earned him third place, ousting Australia’s Mitchell Marsh ” in a tight battle for the No 3 spot”.
The publication said that while Australia’s Glenn Maxwell had a “lean” T20 World Cup, he was fierce against spinners in the Indian Premier League which is why he makes the cut for fourth place.
England’s Liam Livingstone and New Zealand’s Glenn Phillips “also got plenty of votes, having ended 2021 as the year’s leading T20 six-hitters”, it added.
Sri Lanka’s Wanindu Hasaranga emerged as the leading wicket-taker at the World Cup. “His googly proved near-impossible to pick, and he conceded a fraction over a run a ball across year,” said ESPN, who have named him as the seventh player.
According to the article: “After his superb displays for Australia in their title-winning campaign, Adam Zampa is hard done by to miss out but he is unfortunate that he plays in the same era as Rashid Khan, whose unerring brilliance is often taken for granted: Rashid was the year’s leading wicket-taker by a significant margin and gets in as our second spinner.”
Afridi and Bangladesh’s Mustafizur both make the cut “after impressing with the new ball and at the death respectively”, and “Royal Challengers Bangalore seamer Harshal Patel, the IPL’s leading wicket-taker, edges Josh Hazlewood, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi and Avesh Khan to the final bowling spot”.