Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez has reservations about the team’s middle order that has been picked for the T20 World Cup. Terming the likes of Khushdil Shah and Asif Ali as one-dimensional players, he pointed out that the former has a strike rate of 110 in T20Is.
Despite a disappointing Asia Cup 2022 campaign, Pakistan’s selectors retained both Khushdil and Asif in their 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup. There has been a massive backlash over the same, with former cricketers questioning the choice of batters.
Hafeez agreed that Pakistan’s middle order is a big concern. In an interview with Cricket Pakistan, he shared his thoughts on the debate and explained:
“In our line-up, numbers 4,5 and 6 do not rely on innings-building. Khushdil Shah and Asif Ali try to play in a one-dimensional manner and only attack. Khushdil Shah has a strike rate of 110 and we consider him an international hitter. To me it’s not right. We don’t need only sixes, but someone who can score 50 in 30 balls.”
Khushdil registered scores of one, four and two in Pakistan’s last three Asia Cup 2022 matches.
Asif also endured a disastrous campaign. He was dismissed for golden ducks in the last Super 4 match against Sri Lanka, and again in the final against the same opponent. The bowler was the same on both occasions - Wanindu Hasaranga.
“Our middle order is under a lot of pressure” - Hafeez wants better intent from Babar, Rizwan
Pakistan’s opening pair of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan is one of the most prolific in T20I cricket. However, questions have been raised over their strike rates. Hafeez agreed that the duo need to up the ante as the middle order is being left with too much to do. He explained:
“Our middle order is under a lot of pressure. The openers are scoring 60-65 in the first 10 overs, six of which are powerplay overs. How can you expect the others to score 120? The other 10 overs are going to be played on the same pitch. It’s unfair.”
Backing Babar and Rizwan to respond to the challenge, Hafeez concluded:
“According to me, they are jodi no. 1. They have brought a lot of accolades for the nation. Their knocks have won Pakistan games, but the one area where they need to improve is their intent. That way, you can be less consistent, less successful, but more impactful. If they can show intent, that will give more comfort to the middle order.”
Rizwan was the leading run-getter in the Asia Cup, scoring 281 at a strike rate of 117.57. Babar had an extremely poor tournament, managing only 68 runs in six matches.