AnalysisPakistan Are Lagging Behind and Their Batting Needs To Stand Up

Pakistan Are Lagging Behind and Their Batting Needs To Stand Up

A shock defeat in Rawalpindi on Sunday has once again brought Pakistan’s scoring rate under the scanner. It was supposed to be another easy walk for a full-strength Pakistan side against a rather depleted New Zealand team, as was the case in the second T20I. But, a lackluster show with the bat on a placid surface of a venue where a T20I side is yet to defend a total successfully, left Pakistan’s batting plans under scrutiny. A competitive total remained inconceivable for a large part of the innings, but a sensational 21-ball 40 by Shadab Khan gave Pakistan fans a hope to remain tuned in.

New Zealand, despite the absence of their mainstays, chased down the target comfortably with seven wickets and 10 balls spare against a lethal bowling attack. Head coach Azhar Mahmood conceded in the post-match press conference that Pakistan left out a sizeable amount of runs.

While T20 is a format of cricket, it is inherently different from its other two variants as it is largely a battle of outscoring the opposition. The pitches in these contests are mostly flat, offering next to no assistance to the bowlers.

Going for chases is the modus operandi for captains around the world as the allowance of using rollers before the run chase further placates the pitches, and since a large amount of T2o cricket is played at night, the chasing sides mostly have the advantage of dew on their side.

So, when New Zealand tore apart Pakistan’s bowling attack and extracted runs at will – off its premier pacers in Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah Afridi – it was the basic mechanism of T20 cricket at play.

Since the loss to Australia, the eventual winners of the 2021 T20 World Cup, in the semi-final, Pakistan’s scoring rate has been one of the most contentious topics. (Pakistan were 71 for one after 10 overs and were lifted to 176 on the back of Fakhar Zaman’s 55 at a strike rate of 172. Australia cruised to the target with an entire over spare and five wickets in hand.)

In a format where the bowlers have no place to hide, the Pakistan batters are just not giving enough to their bowlers to defend. Since the 2021 T20 World Cup, Pakistan have scored 200 or more only thrice.

Batting first, they have breached the 200-run mark only once, which was in December 2021 against West Indies in Karachi. Amongst the Full Member nations, Ireland is the only other team to post 200 only once in the window. India have done it 12 times, and the Kiwis are the second-best on the chart with nine instances.

Pakistan’s first innings scoring rate has also been a concern. Since 15 November 2021, Pakistan have scored at 8.01 runs per over batting first, which roughly translates to a score of 160 if the team plays the entire 20 overs. This scoring rate is only better than Zimbabwe, Ireland, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

South Africa, who have scored at 9.49 in this time, would end up scoring roughly 30 runs more than Pakistan on average, based on their run rate, Australia and India 28, while England and the West Indies 25.

In the last game, Pakistan found themselves in a quagmire, scoring only 30 from overs 7 to 10 after making 54 in the powerplay. Pakistan may have been four runs and a wicket ahead of New Zealand at the 10-over mark as they were 84 for one to the tourists’ 80 for two, but what the chasing side had was a defined target on the board that they could break down in blocks of overs. Also, the fact, which needs to be read with the aforementioned advantages that the chasing sides enjoy, that batters these days are fitter, stronger, and better equipped with power-hitting techniques that make the most ridiculous of the targets achievable (Only this month, Sunrisers Hyderabad eked out a 25-run win despite posting a mammoth 287).

Shadab Khan, on Tuesday, told the media how Sunday’s loss has influenced the team’s approach towards the format. “We have realized that we will have to play with better strike rates to compete with more competitive sides,” he said.

On the eve of the fourth T20I, Babar Azam reminded the media how this series served as an opportunity to experiment and find the best possible combinations, but also revealed that the management planned to give the top four to five batters a consistent run.

Before they start traveling West in their quest for their second T20 World Cup title, Pakistan play Ireland and England in the UK in seven matches. Before that, the last two matches of the five-match T20I series against New Zealand present them an opportunity to identify the most potent resources to enhance their scoring rates.

Pakistan would hope that they find the best combination today, so those batters are well settled on their spots before they land in the US.


The author

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