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Prolific campaigners and the current World number one & number two open the innings for Pakistan in T20Is. Followed by belligerent Fakhar Zaman at the number three spot. The argument of falling short of resources at the top of order simply doesn’t exist.
Although the middle order fails to catch up with the standards, the essential point under scrutiny: ‘Is the lack of faith in the middle order haunting Pakistan?’ Before that, it is necessary to have a look at the actual shortcomings of these number four to six batsmen.
The void created by Muhammad Hafeez’s retirement and Shoaib Malik‘s absence is evident. Pakistan has been persistently trying and testing various names at the numbers 4, 5 & 6 in recent times. These continuous experiments themselves depict the chaotic state of affairs as far as the middle order is concerned.
In the current setup comprising of Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Haider Ali & Asif Ali. Only Iftikhar averages above 25. Although, of course, the positions at which they serve the batting unit, it’s more about strike rates which in their cases aren’t ballistic either with the highest strike rate of 133.7 maintained by Asif.
With the limited exposure they get under varyingly challenging circumstances, these numbers alone aren’t enough to completely analyze their stature. But the established fact is that not even a single of these batters can be termed ‘settled’ in the national side.
Also Read: Is Pakistan’s middle order something to rely on?
Inadequate Belief in the Middle Order
Since the last T-20 World Cup, the top three have faced 72% of the deliveries, leaving a mere 28% for the entire middle order. These percentages clearly specify the minimal trust that the top three exhibit in the middle order.
Contrary arguments arise here.
- Top order doesn’t leave much for the remaining batters because they have mostly failed to catch up.
- The middle order remained unsuccessful because the top three never really allowed them to express their true worth.
If you support any of these claims, fortunately, you have some ground evidence to support your idea. But unfortunately for Pakistan, the whole situation is not an ideal one as the top three have assembled 67.5% of the cumulative runs scored, despite facing 72% of the total balls. Overcautious, sensible or whatever you may like to term it based on your grounded arguments, all and all Pakistan is missing out on some precious runs.
Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram wasn’t impressed with Muhammad Rizwan’s inning against Hong Kong recently based on identical reasons. Sharing his two cents, Wasim said:
“Even tail-enders at number eight or nine can bat in the team. Moreover, Pakistan has Asif, Iftikhar, Nawaz and Shadab in depth. Therefore, in this format of the match what’s good of Rizwan’s unbeaten 78 off 57, pardon me I don’t like this performance”