Having lost to hosts England 3-nil in the ODI series, Pakistan did better in the T20I series, but not to the extent of avenging the ODI whitewash and easing the embarrassment thereby. The touring party came back very strongly in the T20I series opener. The team posted their highest T20 international total of 231 runs in the first of the three games, winning it by a comfortable margin of 31 runs. However, Pakistan lost the second game nearly the same way they had the won the first one. England piled up a 200-run total and Pakistan fell 45 runs short of the target. The decider, however, saw the two teams engage in a good cricketing fight. Pakistan, defending a relatively small total of 154 runs, lost the match with three English wickets and only two balls to spare. Thus the Babar Azam men also lost the T20I series – by 2-1.
While Pakistan’s performance in the bowling department was by and large okay, their batting was indeed subpar. With the exception of Mohammad Rizwan and skipper Babar Azam – who scored a half century twice and once respectively – no player was found among the runs. None of Muhammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman or newcomer Azam Khan could score past 25. Sohaib Maqsood, who earned a recall based on his PSL exploits, could only muster 19, 15 and 13 in the three games while batting one down. The team also lacks a quality all-rounder, like Abdul Razzak and Azhar Mahmood. While bowling all-rounder Shadab Khan did show his ability to use long handle in one of the two innings he played as batsman, Imad Wasim failed to perform in his all three outings.
The rise and rise in T20 popularity has changed the whole complexion of the game of cricket, of which aggression is an essential ingredient. Pakistan not only need players with aggressive approach, but also an aggressive think-tank. To many an expert, headcoach Mibah-ul Haq’s defensive approach does not suit the contemporary style of cricket. Misbah needs to prove his critics wrong, with the team having reached West Indies to play five T20s and two Tests.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2021.
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