Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What can the green shirts do to make sure they don’t lose the third T20?

Time to hunt some Kiwis! Wellington will host the series decider this Friday when Pakistan and New Zealand go head-to-head in the third and final T20 match in Pakistan’s tour to the land of Kiwis.

So far both teams have been in prime form at different instances with Pakistan winning the first T20 through a magnificent all-round performance (less than two drop catches) while Williamson and Guptill stole the show for the Kiwis on Sunday with awe-inspiring performances with the bat.

Both teams have a lot to prove in the third match.

Both teams have a lot at stake.

Williamson and Guptill made 171 in reply to Pakistan’s 169 to register the biggest partnership in T20I history.
Photo: AFP

Team Pakistan played like champs in the first T20 and was admired by all. The team combination looked like the best we’d seen over a very long time. The bowling attack was both balanced and fearsome. Everything was so good about the side. And then everything fell apart in the second innings of the second game when New Zealand totally destroyed what was till that time, in our minds, the best bowling line-up Pakistan could have managed to assemble. All throughout the New Zealand batting innings, I kept wondering what would’ve happened if Guptill and Williamson hadn’t had that mix-up in the middle during the first match. The afterthought didn’t make a very good picture. So, what can the green shirts do to make sure they don’t lose the third T20?

Sohaib Maqsood- An asset or liability?

Ramiz ‘Rambo’ Raja termed Maqsood as the next ‘Inzi’ just as he predicted the same for Umar Akmal a few years back – both predictions, unfortunately, have only resulted in me not trusting Raja any longer. I am also not sure why they have picked Iftikhar Ahmed in the T20 squad when he doesn’t deserve a place in the playing 11. I am also not sure why they persisted with Maqsood in game two when Rizwan was sitting in the ranks waiting for a chance.

Don’t want to play two wicket keepers in the side? Then let Sarfaraz come up the order and do something useful for the side rather than wasting him down the order by giving him just a few balls with which he can show off his batting talents.

Photo: AFP

The dream comeback that wasn’t meant to be

The hoo-ha related to Amir fizzled out in just a matter of two T20 games. Maqsood also contributed in Amir’s wait for his first international stick on his return. Amir really needs to lift up his game in the next match and prove himself big time if he is to keep his place in a side where Anwar Ali is sitting in the hut eager to get back in the side. Times have changed in the last five years. There is competition now and he will not get better bowling tracks to prove his worth.

Photo: AFP

Team combination

Despite the great amount of criticism on the team combination after the second T20, I still believe the squad picked for the T20 series is one of the best sides picked by Pakistan in a long time and there’s not much wrong in the playing 11 selected in the first two matches either (of course apart from Sohaib Maqsood that is). Gul, Amir, Wahab, Afridi and Imad all have the potential to make inroads into any batting line-up in the world on any given day. All they need is to have confidence in themselves and know that they can roll over the Kiwi batting order.

Boom Boom may need to shuffle his attack around a little to get better results. As far as batting is concerned, the professor seems to be in a good nick and needs to back himself to give another thundering performance in the third T20 as he did in the first match.

The skipper also needs to take things a little more seriously this time around when he’s at the crease and not consider victory based on strike rate only. I’m not a big fan of Malik generally but he certainly is the stabilising factor in this Pakistan batting order and he should continue being that player.

Photo: AFP

For the record, this is the fourth time these two sides have met each other in a head-to-head series. Both sides have been victorious once while the last series hosted by Pakistan in the UAE ended in a draw. So, Friday’s match will also decide which team will have the upper hand on the other as far as series’ wins are concerned.

Go green shirts!

from The Express Tribune Blog

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