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The Green Team recently covered an article in which we talked about Imad Wasim being one of a few notable players who have suddenly disappeared from the world of cricket. In this addition, left-hand middle-order batter Haris Sohail is rightfully included in this list who was last seen in 2020.
A stylish, elegant, and majestic player, Haris Sohail played a crucial role in Pakistan’s ODI squad. The batter made his international debut in 2013 against the West Indies, but he remained in and out of the team. It was in late 2014 that he truly stepped up and showed his skills. He brought up his first two fifties against New Zealand in UAE and also chipped in with a few wickets.
Also Read: Where is Imad Wasim?
The southpaw earned his place in Pakistan’s 15-men squad for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. He managed only 177 runs in 6 games, getting starts but failed to convert it into big scores. His best was 70 against the UAE.
Though the next two series – against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe – saw him do brilliantly. He scored 288 runs in five games at an average of 96 with four 50s.
That was the last time he represented the national side before two years of hiatus from his career due to injury. That injury and the surgery that followed may well have played into the consistent fitness issues for Haris, causing his career to have massive issues.
The failed surgery that caused problems in the career of Haris Sohail
In October 2015, H Sohail suffered an injury where he had to undergo knee surgery. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful in Dubai and had to undergo an extensive rehabilitation program at the NCA. He was vocal about his issue which he addressed;
“The last two years were very difficult. I struggled a lot. It was that kind of injury. Things weren’t right for me. That time, only I know how much I struggled. I heard many things [about my career ending]. But my goal was only one thing – to return.”
It was a rough couple of years for the left-handed batter. He averaged 43 in 22 ODIs he has represented for his country. Fortunately, he recovered and he replaced Umar Akmal in the squad for the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.
His return was very impressive, averaging 50 with seven 50s and two 100s. But Sohail was not the same with his double operation. He had to opt out of more series because of his knee issues and fitness. One could imagine that the failed operation played a hard hand in the career of Sohail which has forced the selectors to think he may not be fit to be in PAK’s ODI setup anymore.
Return from Injury
He was part of Pakistan’s successful Champions Trophy squad but did not play a single game. Sohail had to wait until the start of 2018 for his ODI return. By that time, he made his Test debut and he was impressive.
The player returned to ODI eleven in the fourth and fifth match of the series in the New Zealand tour and scored back-to-back Fifties. It was his fifth consecutive 50+ score in ODIs. This pondered questions on why Sohail was not given a match early in the series.
This continued further. Asia Cup 2018 was followed and was given just one game. Then New Zealand came to UAE and again, Haris was given just one game where he scored his third straight fifty against them in a no-result third ODI.
He missed the South Africa tour due to knee issues. But 2019 was where he showed the team management what he can offer the country in the middle.
How Haris Sohail was crucial in Pakistan’s ODI setup
Sohail finally got a proper chance when he was picked in Pakistan’s second-string squad that faced Australia in early 2019. He was the highest run-scorer for Green Team in the series, averaging 73 with two tons.
He became the first PAK left-hand batter to score two hundred in the middle-order position in ODIs. It is quite fascinating that out of many left-hand batters, there are only two names that combined scored three tons.
Haris was named in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup squad and played only five out of eight games. He played the first game against the West Indies but was dropped for experienced Shoaib Malik for the next three.
Shoaib’s failure – where he scored just 8 runs and two ducks in three innings – forced the management to bring back Haris. In the two games that were followed – South Africa and New Zealand – He played very important innings for the team. He scored 89 in 59 balls against the Proteas before a well anchored-before-attack inning against the Kiwis with his 68 from 76 balls. He averaged 40 and struck at 95 in five games he played.
He followed the tournament with yet another fifty in the Sri Lanka series before playing his last international game against Zimbabwe in 2020, again with a fifty. That was the last time Haris Sohail represented the country.
Stats in the Middle-Order
No left-hander has a better batting average than Haris (Minimum 20 innings). The strike rate is only bettered by his fellow teammate Imad Wasim (110.29), Wasim Akram (88.33), and S Tanvir (87.11).
He batted in five positions in ODIs, out of which he has done brilliantly in the 3rd, 4th, and fifth spots. Take a look at the table:
|Batting Position||Matches||Runs||Average||Strike Rate||100s||50s||High score|
The ODI line-up is pretty much set. The first four batting positions see Fakhar Zaman and Imam ul-Haq dominate the opening slot with Babar Azam coming at three. Mohammad Rizwan lately has his issues. But he feels more fit at number 4.
In relation to this article, do read this: What is the issue with Pakistan’s middle-order?
Haris Sohail can easily be placed at 5th. He has the ability to change his gears at will. Something that the PAK middle-order has been missing in Haris’ absence.
Rashi Latif, the former wicket-keeper, and captain of the national side was vocal about him. He said:
“Haris Sohail had injury issues but PCB cannot sideline such a player. Haris might have made mistakes but the time is not over yet and can still play for Pakistan.”
Many fans still feel that Haris Sohail is the best solution to Pakistan’s recent middle batting issues. It’s up to the selection committee to make their move and bring back Pakistan’s perhaps best middle-order left-handed batter.