KARACHI: After registering resounding wins in the two Dubai T20Is, Pakistan set their sights on a 3-0 series whitewash against world champions West Indies as the teams gather for the final act at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Stadium tonight.
The venue hasn’t always seen Pakistan’s best in the shortest format, with the ‘hosts’ winning just one of the four matches they have played there.
However, Sarfraz Ahmed’s men are on a high and the Karachi-based wicketkeeper-batsman has won his first three matches as captain by comfortable margins.
Rumman in line for debut
Pakistan are likely to field at least two new faces from the first two games, where the Men in Green fielded the same team.
Karachi Blue’s left-arm pacer Rumman Raees is likely to make his debut while fellow left-armer Mohammad Amir is also expected to play his first international in the UAE since his return to the national team last January.
Reserve batsmen Mohammad Rizwan and Saad Nasim might also get a chance, especially if all-rounder Shoaib Malik is rested for the dead rubber.
‘Akmal should bat at number three’
Despite his prolific form in the top-order for the Lahore outfit, batsman Umar Akmal batted at number six in the second game and was left to face just one ball in the final over of the innings.
Rated by many as the best batting talent in the country, Umar has rarely been given a chance to play in the top-order for Pakistan.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, former Test fast-bowler Mohammad Akram feels Pakistan should promote the right-hander to make full use of his potential.
“I feel Umar should bat at number three and must be given a fair run,” he said. “He’s a proper batsman and should be given responsibility; we can’t be labelling him a hitter alone. We won’t succeed in utilising his talent completely by batting him at number six and his impact would subside significantly.”
Akram commended the team for their outstanding performance and stressed that the overwhelming nature of the wins augurs well for the future despite the relative lack of firepower and strength in Carlos Brathwaite’s West Indies.
“Pakistan’s performances were very encouraging and they are now in a position to give the players on the bench an opportunity to showcase their talent,” added Akram.
The 42-year-old was also hugely impressed by Sarfraz’s captaincy, and said the former U19 World Cup-winning captain displayed leadership skills from an early stage so it won’t be surprising to see him leading Pakistan in all three formats.
“Sarfraz’s energy is infectious; he leads by example and looks in control of the situation. He hasn’t been tested fully but that is a compliment to his captaincy — the fact that he doesn’t let teams come back into the game. I feel he would be captaining the country in all three formats soon.”
Akram also praised Pakistan’s bowling attack in the first two games. “Sohail Tanvir and Imad Wasim are complimenting each other very well with the new ball while Wahab Riaz’s pace is always an asset. Hasan Ali is responding well to pressure situations and Mohammad Nawaz has also done a wonderful job.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2016.