Gillette T20 INTL Series v Pakistan
Five things that went horribly wrong for Pakistan
The world's top-ranked T20 team were out-gunned and out-classed by Australia, and our Pakistan correspondent analyses areas for improvement
10 November 2019, 10:30 PM AEST
Iftikhar is batting too low
In recent years Pakistan have been guilty of not maximising their resources in limited-overs cricket. They repeated that mistake against Australia by not giving Iftikhar Ahmed a chance in the top order. In seven international innings since his comeback in the home series against Sri Lanka, Iftikhar has scored 210 runs and boasts a strike-rate of 143.83. In those seven innings, there are five not outs which highlights his ability to stay at the crease.
Iftikhar was used at No.7 in the first T20I in Sydney where he scored 1 not out. In the second T20I in Canberra, he came in at six and scored 62 not out off 34 balls. In the last game at Perth, even in a reshuffled batting order, he batted only at five and scored 45 off 37 balls. Pakistan perhaps missed a trick by not giving him a longer run.
Where are the power-hitters?
For a team that had not gone beyond 150 in the past five innings, it was strange to see them dropping their two strike batsmen Fakhar Zaman and Asif Ali for third T20I in Perth. Sure, both batsmen had failed to deliver in the recent outings but knowing there were no suitable replacements in the squad, Pakistan could have taken another chance with them as they were their best bet to reach the total in range of 180.
Without them Pakistan managed to survive 20 overs but posted only 106 runs – their third lowest total in T20Is when batting out the overs. Last year, Fakhar's 42-ball 73 and 46-ball 91 were the driving force behind Pakistan's two big totals (194 and 187 respectively) against Australia in Harare. His form since them has been downhill but his role was vital to Pakistan's plans coming into the series.
One dimensional top-order
Since the 2016 T20 World Cup in India, Pakistan's run-rate in the Powerplay of 7.40 is second lowest among full member teams, and only better than Zimbabwe's 7.36. Before this series, Pakistan coach Misbah-ul-Haq had emphasised the need to capitalise on the Powerplay in their bid to win the matches. But none of their top order of Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Haris Sohail have any history of going big in the first six overs. All four strike at 125 or below in T20s.
In Aaron Finch (T20I strike rate 156.50) and David Warner (140.85), Australia have one of the most destructive opening duos in T20Is. Perhaps, the only batsman in Pakistan's top order that can match their scoring rate was Fakhar Zaman (136.70) but he was dropped for the third match.
In the two completed matches, Pakistan's Powerplay totals were 2-32 and 3-34 compared to 2-48 and 0-56 by Australia. Pakistan could have also tried Iftikhar or Asif at first drop to speed up the scoring rate.
Bench strength needs attention
With Fakhar out of form, Pakistan didn't have a back-up opener in the squad with a similar striking ability. Imam scored runs in the Pakistan Super League and the National T20 tournament this year but his striking power does not fit into Pakistan's strategy to win the Powerplays. Rizwan Hussain and Ahsan Ali are two opening batsmen in the current domestic set-up who could have been an ideal back up for Fakhar.
Even though Ahsan scored only 131 runs at 26.20 in the National T20 tournament last month, his strike rate (148.86) was worth noticing. Rizwan scored 67 runs at strike rate of 191.42 in the same tournament but didn't get to open this season with Ahmed Shahzad and Babar Azam in the team. Last year, however, Rizwan accumulated 311 runs at an average of 51.83 and a strike-rate of 131.77 in the National Tournament.
Not attacking Finch with Imad
Imad Wasim had a history of troubling Aaron Finch in T20Is. Before the series, the Australian captain had faced 10 balls from the-left-arm spinner, scored just one run and had been dismissed twice – in Mohali 2016 and Abu Dhabi 2018.
Imad also has a better record bowling with new ball in the Powerplay but Pakistan decided against using him against Finch in the first game in Sydney. In the three-game series, Imad got to bowl only five balls to Finch, who finished the series with 106 runs – a whopping 35 percent of Australia's series total.
Gillette T20 INTLs v Pakistan
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir.
November 3: First T20I, SCG, No result
November 8: Third T20I, Perth Stadium, 4.30pm (Fox & Kayo)