Asia Cup 2018: A flop show from Pakistan openers
Chosen as one of the favorites to lift the Asia Cup by many, Pakistan didn't live up to the expectations of their fans and cricket analysts. Millions of hopes were shattered after Bangladesh recorded their fourth successive win against Pakistan, knocking Pakistan out of the tournament.
There were a lot of reasons why Pakistan were not able to perform properly, among which the openers also have a big part. The continuous failure from the openers to provide a solid start to the team badly hurt Pakistan in the series.
Just before the Asia Cup tournament, Pakistan fought against a weakened Zimbabwe side, where several records were created and broken. The openers gave fabulous start to Pakistan in most of the matches.
In the five ODI matches, the Pakistani openers, Fakhar Zaman and Imam Ul Haq opened with a partnership of over 100 in four out of the five matches including a three-hundred run stand in the fourth match of the series.
Zaman also got a brilliant double-century against Zimbabwe, being the first Pakistani batsman to do so. He also became the fastest player to 1000 runs in terms of innings, breaking Viv Richards' record.
Even Imam-Ul-Haq too was among the runs for Pakistan in that series and Pakistan humiliated Zimbabwe by whitewashing them.
However, before that series, Pakistan played against New Zealand in the latter's backyard in a 5-match ODI series where Pakistan were whitewashed 5-0 by New Zealand. The openers weren't good enough in that series too.
Now, in the Asia Cup, the openers fell cheaply against every opposition. Their highest opening stand was 41 runs, the second highest was just 24 runs. They couldn't even cross double figures in three ODI matches.
Conceding too many dot balls early in the innings built immense pressure on the openers. As a result, they tried to implement the attacking way, which didn't turn out good for them at all. Due to their failures, the Pakistan middle-order couldn't put runs on the board. It was Shoaib Malik who carried on. It is quite evident that Pakistan are more dependent on their top-order, and if their top-order fails, they find it difficult to put runs on the board against good bowling attacks.
Here are the opening stands between the Pakistani openers, Zaman and Imam-Ul-Haq in the Zimbabwe series and Asia Cup tournament:
vs Zimbabwe: 113, 119, 0, 304 & 168.
Asia Cup 2018: 41, 2, 0, 24 & 2.
Same openers but result isn't the same!