Pakistan captain Babar Azam and wicketkeeper batter Mohammad Rizwan have copped endless criticism following Pakistan’s defeat against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup final. Most of it is due to the low strike-rates of the two batters which many believe has cost Pakistan dearly at the top of the order. Babar was a big disappointment in the Asia Cup, scoring only 68 runs from six innings, and while Rizwan finished as the leading run-getter, fingers have been pointed at him for his conservative approach.
Pakistan on Thursday announced their 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup, which was pretty much on the lines of their unit composition for the Asia Cup, barring a few exceptions. PCB chief selector Muhammad Waseem was asked about the decision to not have a back-up opener, to which he backed the under-fire duo, highlighting their contribution in Pakistan’s fine recent run in T20Is.
“Both of them have brought us enough success. You are talking about breaking up the best opening pair in world cricket. They are our strongest point and the numbers show they have scored runs with great consistency. I understand reservations about their strike rate but you will see improvements in it,” Waseem said.
Babar and Rizwan were the architects of Pakistan’s success last year. As the team reached the semifinal of the T20 World Cup, Babar and Rizwan ended the year as the most successful opening pair in the world, putting together four 150-run partnerships in T20Is in 2021, to go with six overall century-plus stands. The two opening batters had scored brilliant half-centuries in Pakistan’s famous win over India at last year’s T20 World Cup and kept the same momentum going forward.
However, their flow hit a roadblock in the Asia Cup as Babar and Rizwan No. 3 Fakhar Zaman ate up three-fourth deliveries faced by the entire team since the T20 World Cup. Waseem came to his star opener’s rescue, reminding people of what the two had achieved and urged the onlookers to show more patience.
“We won nine out of last 13 T20Is, beating bigger teams along the way. Discarding anyone on the basis of a few bad games will be unfair. I have no doubt about these boys, almost everyone has won us games from top to bottom. You name anyone and they have performed lately. Since the last World Cup, we have had envisaged the conditions [in Australia] and planned accordingly. This whole squad is our strength and I am hopeful that this team will get us good results,” the PCB selector pointed out.
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