aAfter losing the T20I series to England at home, the Green Shirts take part in a triangular series involving Bangladesh and hosts New Zealand. It’s the last chance for them to put the finishing touches on their squad for the T20 World Cup in Australia which starts later this month.
The tri-series will give Pakistan the opportunity to explore options as Pakistan’s record in Australian courts has not been great.
Pakistan still have a few days to make changes to their squad without going through the event’s technical committee and they can bring in replacements from their traveling reserves.
Moeen Ali’s England won the seven-match T20I series 4-3; This was their first tour of Pakistan after 17 years.
England bowled admirably throughout the series and revealed Pakistan’s mid-order.
There is a big question mark about beatings in Pakistan, especially the middle system which has been failing again and again, even on home soil.
Pakistan’s success in the World Cup depends on the opening goals scored. The selectors gave too many chances to Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali and Haider Ali. None of them justified his choice.
Pakistan’s captain, Babar Azam, also agreed that his team needed to improve in the shortest format. Players need to improve the ball-point ratio, especially in the first power play.
Pakistan batsmen need to look at the best batsmen in the world and see how they approach their game.
In the recently completed high-scoring T20I series between India and South Africa, the Proteas batsmen dominated despite losing the series. Their strike rates were outstanding: Quinton de Cock (145), David Miller (235), Roscoe Russo (196).
Openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan make strong starts in most matches, but Babar needs to improve his ball-point ratio in his first six overs.
The idea that offense is the best defense is an approach not practiced by the Pakistani editorial.
In the seventh T20I against England, both Babar and Rizwan were dismissed in the first eight balls of the innings and then with the exception of Shan Masood’s 53 off 43 balls, all middle-order batsmen scored around a run in the ball.
“Rizwan and I went out early today which put a lot of pressure on the mid-order. It’s always difficult to chase a 200-plus target when you don’t get a good start at the top,” Babar said.
Obviously, this does not mean that they have to hit a six on each ball. They must choose their pitcher and venue. They must have situational awareness. The coach will not tell them about the situation. They need to learn this on their own.
In the Pakistan-English series, with the exception of Muhammad Rizwan (316 runs) and Babbar Azam (285), no batsmen were consistent although there were many chances. Only Shan Massoud with 156 runs, including two fifties, shared some of the burden.
Iftikhar Ahmed scored only 99 runs at an average of 19.80. Khushdil Shah made 63 runs, at an average of 21; Haider Ali 36 runs, at an average of 21; Asif Ali scored only 34 runs, at an average of 11.33.
The four middle-order batsmen combined scored 232 runs, one short of Babar Azam’s 285 runs in the series. It wasn’t their first failure in a series. They failed in the Asian Cup as well.
With this mid-order performance, how can fans expect the Green Shirts to win the T20 World Cup?
On the bowling front, in the Asia Cup and the England series, Shaheen Afridi was missed by Pakistan. Without him, Pakistan’s bowling was powerless against the aggressive English batsmen. Except for one game where they defended 146, all of the pitchers failed to stop the flow of runs.
The economy rate of the two bowlers was very high: Mohammad Hasnain (9.93), Shahnawaz Dhani (12.75), Mohammad Waseem (10.98), Usman Qadir (10.41). They were all dominated by the English batsmen. Only Haris Rauf (8 wickets at an economy rate of 7.87) and Shadab Khan (8.90) prove their skills.
Critics are suggesting the following changes to the squad: Babar should come down to No. 3 or 4, Fakhar Zaman should open with Rizwan, Shan Masood could come in at No. 3 or 4, Shoaib Malik at No. 5, Asif Ali at No. 6, Shadab at No. 7, Nawaz at 8, Rauf at 9, Shaheen Afridi at 10, Naseem Shah at 11.
With Shaheen, Naseem and Bir Haris back bowling, Pakistan’s fast bowling will be one of the best in the mega event.