Former Pakistani pacer Shoaib Akhtar has questioned the Pakistani batters' approach and opined that they are to blame for their shaky batting display against Afghanistan. Babar Aza's side came out victorious against the Afghan challenge by five wickets in Dubai on October 29.
Bowling first, Pakistan restricted the Afghan batters to a total of 147/6 in the first innings. The unbeaten partnership of 71* between Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib was extremely crucial for the Afghans.
While chasing down the total, Pakistan lost their in-form opener Mohammad Rizwan in the third over. However, with skipper Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman at the crease, the duo stabilized the situation and dragged the team to 75 runs by the end of the 11th over.
Shoaib Akhtar, while reviewing the tightly-contested clash, posted a video on his official YouTube. You can watch the video below:
In his video, the 46-year old slammed the approach of the Pakistani batters and pointed out that they need to improve their strike rate. He said:
"Unfortunately, the batting of Pakistan puts them into trouble. We need to improve our strike rate, captain included. We had to score runs in the middle overs and we put ourselves in so much trouble. The captain needs to improve his strike rate."
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Akhtar highlighted that Pakistan skipper Babar Azam is a great batter but needs to score quickly to not get into any trouble. The former speedster also opined that Mohammad Hafeez is a fabulous T20 batter but looked out of touch against Afghanistan. Akhtar said:
"Babar Azam is a great guy, a great batsman, please improve your strike rate so you don't get into trouble. Hafeez looked a little out of touch but then again I will say he is a great batsman when it comes to T20. He needs to accelerate a little so that Asif faces a little less pressure."
From a situation where it seemed Pakistan could comprehensively chase down the total, Afghanistan gave them a run for their money in the second half of the chase. Afghan skipper Nabi broke the important partnership by trapping Fakhar Zaman in front of the stumps in the 12th over.
Soon, Rashid Khan also sent Mohammad Hafeez and Babar Azam packing. After a couple of boundaries, Shoaib Malik also lost his wicket to Naveen Ul-Haq in the 18th over. However, the heroics of Asif Ali in the next over safely helped Pakistan over the finish line and crushed the hopes of Afghan fans.
"Asif Ali is Pakistan's Mr. Reliable" - Shoaib Akhtar
The former cricketer-turned-expert also heaped praise on Asif Ali, the current Pakistan sensation. Ali has produced two match-winning cameos for Pakistan in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2021.
After smashing a 12-ball knock of 27 runs to ensure Pakistan's win over the Black Caps, Ali manifested a commendable knock against Afghanistan. His knock of 25 runs in seven deliveries saw him hit a quadruple of sixes in the penultimate over. Ali's clean strikes against Karin Janat gave Pakistan another two crucial points.
Shoaib Akhtar, in his video, lauded the middle-order batter and termed him 'Pakistan's Mr. Reliable'. Akhtar said:
"What a reliable guy, Asif Ali. He has played only two innings and has won those matches. Asif is Pakistan’s Mr. Reliable guy and there is no doubt about that. He is a powerful hitter. A lot of our players, including myself, have advocated that Asif is one of the best T20I players and a finisher."