Pakistan are against the ropes in the three-match T20I series against New Zealand as they’ve lost the opening two games and only a win in third shortest-format game can help them gain much-needed confidence when going into the Tests.
Pakistan stayed rigid in their approach and played the same elevens in the first two T20Is, but with the series already lost, it is high time Pakistan try something new on the field against New Zealand.
While the option of chasing may present itself if Pakistan win the toss third time on the trot, a few changes in the eleven can also be beneficial for the stand-in captain Shadab Khan.
Here are the three players who can walk in and help Pakistan win the third T20I against New Zealand.
1. Sarfaraz Ahmed
If you ask a Pakistani cricket fan why Sarfaraz Ahmed was sent into the wilderness, even after taking Pakistan to the summit of the T20I rankings, they would not mention his batting, his wicketkeeping or his captaincy, but they’d rather blame it on him being a Karachi player.
Whether this theory of the Pakistan Cricket Board being biased against Karachi players is true or not, one thing everyone can agree on is that Sarfaraz brings something to the field which many other players can’t – the much-needed energy.
Sarfaraz was famous for his animated and chatty wicketkeeping when he was captaining Pakistan in all formats and even though some may disagree, the energy he brought with his shenanigans was contagious.
Him walking to the bowler before and after every delivery, his comments when someone dropped a catch or did a great job in the fielding, all of that is missed with Muhammad Rizwan behind the stumps.
With Shadab at the helm against a New Zealand side which he is finding very difficult to outwit, an experienced former captain behind the stumps can go a long way in helping Pakistan enforce a win when everything has failed to work.
2 and 3. Mohammad Hasnain and Muhammad Musa
Wahab Riaz is not doing what he is supposed to do in New Zealand – be the experienced leader of the young bowling pack, and this gives way to Pakistan go for the young but express pace duo of Mohammad Hasnain and Muhammad Musa.
Inclusion of Musa can also help Shaheen Afridi take a much-needed rest before he is asked to run in and fire on all cylinders during the upcoming Tests.
Also, if Pakistan really want to make things interesting, they can always replace Haris Rauf with Iftikhar Ahmed. Iftikhar is considered to be a big-hitter, and also can bowl four overs of off-spin. Since New Zealand are perfectly fine when dealing with pacers, a spin of strategy may work in Pakistan’s favour.
4. Usman Qadir
We all saw what the legendary spinner Abdul Qadir’s son Usman Qadir got from his father – a spin bowling masterclass.
Shadab has been off colour in the bowling department in the first two matches, maybe because of his increased focus on batting and recently captaincy and Usman can help fill the shoes of team’s first-choice leggie.
If there’s a question of who he should replace in the side, anyone between Khushdil Shah and Abdullah Shafique can give way to Usman, as many may still now know that he has the ability to bat quite nicely in the lower order.
Pakistan will be concluding their shortest-format series in the third T20I against New Zealand on Tuesday and they will need something new to surprise the hosts and make them submit. However, if they play safe and don’t make any changes, they will surely lose again, with dignity yes, but they will lose.