The T20 World Cup kicks off on October 16, 2022, in Australia. All the participating teams have already reached the Australian shores. The first-round qualifiers and the practice matches for already-qualified teams will start shortly.
The Pakistan Cricket Team had a dream T20I tri-series in New Zealand. After losing the home T20I series to a depleted England team, they won the tri-series in New Zealand. Bangladesh and New Zealand were the other two participating teams in the tournament.
And unlike their dismal middle-order batting performances in the Asia Cup 2022 and the T20I series against England, their middle order stepped up in the Tri-series. The Pakistan team management did make some changes in the middle order and it went as per their plans.
Pakistan middle order woes during the Asia Cup 2022
The Pakistan team had to face plenty of criticism from the fans and the media regarding their middle-order batting woes. Their middle order consists of players like Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Fakhar Zaman, and Asif Ali. All four of them had quite a struggle with the bat all through the Asia Cup 2022.
The team was heavily reliant on the opening pair of Mr. Consistent Mohammad Rizwan and skipper Babar Azam. The explosive middle-order batsman Fakhar Zaman was eventually out of the team midway through the Asia Cup 2022, due to his bad run of form with the bat.
Khushdil Shah and Asif Ali failed to make their marks as well. Several ex-cricketers and Pakistani fans even called out the skipper Babar Azam to quit his “favoritism” attitude and drop the out-of-form players.
The extended pressure took a toll on the bowlers as well who were doing so well. The bowlers kept on leaking too many runs in the later stages of the tournament. Subsequently, the middle order’s poor run of form is one of the reasons for Pakistan losing the Asia Cup 2022.
Middle-order witnessed a small boost
Consequently, a few changes were made in the middle order during the home T20I series against England. Youngster Haider Ali and the in-form Shan Masood were part of the middle order in place of the injured Fakhar Zaman. Khushdil Shah was ultimately dropped due to his long bad run of form with the bat.
Haider Ali and Shan Masood were the obvious replacements for them. Haider Ali, in particular, was struggling to score in all three matches. He too was dropped due to his poor form with the bat and his replacement again was none other than Khushdil Shah.
Masood, however, looked solid with the bat and scored two half-centuries in the tournament, including one in the series decider. But, he faces immense criticism for being too slow while chasing a big score.
All-rounders provide the much-needed batting uplift
The Pakistan team flew to New Zealand to play a T20 tri-series that also featured hosts New Zealand and Bangladesh. The first match played between Pakistan and Bangladesh witnessed both Haider Ali and Shan Masood in the Pakistani batting lineup. Pakistan eventually won that match, thanks to an inspired bowling performance from the Pakistan bowlers.
The openers did a commanding job with the bat too, but they needed someone to accelerate quickly in the middle order. The spin-bowling all-rounder and vice-captain Shadab Khan has promoted up the order to Number 4 in their second match against New Zealand. He played a superb knock of 34 runs off 22 balls to chase an average score of 147/8 set by New Zealand.
Another major boost was provided by another spin-bowling all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz with the bat this time around. He played two blinders with the bat in the last two matches of the tournament after being promoted to bat at number 4.
Firstly, he scored a quickfire 45 runs off just 20 balls as Pakistan chased down 177/3 set up by Bangladesh. The win also meant Pakistan qualifying for the finals of the Tri-series. In the finals, they successfully chased down New Zealand’s total of 163/7.
Mohammad Nawaz again was the hero with the bat, scoring 38 runs off just 22 balls. Youngster Haider Ali too was impressive with the bat, scoring quick 31 runs off 15 balls. Iftikhar Ahmed too scored 25 off just 14 balls to take his team home.
Why is the Tri-Series Victory vital for the Pakistan Team?
The win provides great momentum for the Pakistan cricket team, leading up to the T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia. Not only does it give them a historic series win in New Zealand, but it also helped their middle order gain huge confidence going into the World Cup.