Pace & Absolutely No Pace – Contrasting traits within Pakistan’s T20I Team

Precise, fierce & deadly – the hallmarks of Green Team’s pace unit in the recently concluded T20 World Cup in which Pakistan’s T20I team fell tantalizingly short at the final hurdle. A rather rookie-pace battery stood tall and depicted top-class performances in the all-important tournament.

On the contrary, a batting lineup filled with experienced campaigners and leading names from the cricketing globe appeared utterly scarce of firepower. Obsolete approach from the opening pair, haphazard middle order and meagre backup options to fall back upon. A combination of errors ultimately led to sedate batting performances throughout the World Cup.

Batting Exhibition from Pakistan’s T20I team at the Marquee Event?

The top two, Babar Azam & Muhammad Rizwan, upon whom the foundation of the entire batting lineup rested, failed to leave any substantial impact throughout the World Cup except for the Semifinal. Babar Azam continued with his muddled run and assembled only 124 runs in the seven outings at a below-par average of 17.71 and strike rate of 93. Whereas Muhammad Rizwan looked equally out of sorts managing 175 runs in the seven innings at an average of 25 and strike rate of 109. Yeah, that’s the ‘Absolutely No pace’ at which the title insinuated.

A subdued showcase from the opening pair was always going to result in nothing, but catastrophe, as the middle order was never settled from the very go. Consequently, the management was forced to keep executing continued experiments within the global event. Favourably for the Men in Green, few of them did yield fruitful results. For instance, Shan Masood performed skillfully at number four and fresh recruitment Muhammad Haris chipped in with bold performances. A major push in them reaching the finals.

Nonetheless, the shortcomings of Pakistan’s T20I team batting lineup didn’t culminate here. Another prominent inadequacy which was particularly exposed in the Final was the lack of steam in death overs batting. With Asif Ali, Khushdil Shah and Haider Ali warming the bench for the most part after a string of mediocre performances. This particular deficiency was evidently on the cards.

Root Cause – Rigid Selection Policy?

As mentioned priorly, the team management looked proactive with various changes within the batting composition. However, Muhammad Haris landing from the reserves directly into the playing eleven against South Africa ahead of original squad members (Khushdil Shah, Haider Ali & Asif Ali) is a clear acceptance of timid selections earlier.  

Haider Ali and Asif Ali didn’t fail circumstantially on the big stage; contrarily, they hardly had any performance to showcase in the 30+ international matches they played. Identical is the case with Khushdil Shah, who wasn’t even entrusted with a single opportunity in the mega event. Resultantly, the Pakistani team hadn’t had the leverage to fall back upon the confined backup options either. Regardless of reaching the finals, strange selection tactics that ultimately slender crucial spots of the World Cup squad are indeed questionable.

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