The Pakistan team management is spending most of its energy on finding solutions to the team's unreliable batting as it finalises a strategy to tackle New Zealand in its opening World Twenty20 match today.
New Zealand have already beaten Bangladesh and a win at Pallekele today will confirm its place in the Super Eights. But, for Pakistan, a win will be of utmost importance which is why the focus in training has been on batting. Head coach Dav Whatmore has held various discussions with the team to focus on batting after Pakistan failed to overhaul England’s 111 in the final warm-up just two days after reaching the 186-run target against India.
“The coach is forcing the players to rotate strike,” a member of the team management told The Express Tribune. “He’s unhappy with the batsmen’s approach as they’re either slogging or consuming too many deliveries. He’s strictly told the top-order not to throw away their wickets.”
“The inconsistency in batting is a concern ahead of the first game. We’re still pondering over our batting line-up and it’s possible that Kamran Akmal will be sent up the order. But the final line-up and the openers are yet to be finalised.”
Hafeez ready for serious business
After blowing hot and cold in the warm-up matches in which they beat arch-rivals India but lost to England, Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez said his team was ready for the serious business.
"We tried out various combinations in the warm-up matches and now we are ready for the big event," said Hafeez. "I am satisfied with the preparation of the team and we are ready for the big challenge. We know conditions here suit seamers so we are not going to rely on our spinners alone. We also have good seamers led by Gul so we will have a balanced combination for a winning start."
Taylor wary of Pakistan spinners
Meanwhile, New Zealand captain Ross Taylor was wary of the threat posed by Pakistani spinners but was confident after having already played on this pitch against Bangladesh.
"Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal have got very good records in the last 12-18 months," said Taylor. "But we have had an insight into the pitch and how it has played at different times. We prepared really well and I'm sure we'll do the same against Pakistan."
Pakistan pose a far greater threat as they have the top three wicket takers in Twenty20 cricket with Ajmal (60 wickets), Umar Gul (59) and Shahid Afridi (59).
New Zealand have happy memories of the Pallekele stadium where they beat Pakistan by a 110-run margin in the 50-over World Cup last year, with Taylor notching a career best 131*. (with additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2012.