T20 dominance

Published November 6, 2018
Fakhar Zaman and Barbar Azam bat during T20 cricket match against New Zealand. —AFP/File
Fakhar Zaman and Barbar Azam bat during T20 cricket match against New Zealand. —AFP/File

COMING on the heels of a victory against the Aussies, Pakistan’s 3-0 annihilation of a formidable New Zealand side in the UAE on Sunday was further proof that Sarfraz Ahmed and his men are the undisputed kings in the shortest format of the game.

Though the New Zealand side had themselves enjoyed an impressive run in T20 cricket until the beginning of this year, they could offer little resistance to the Pakistan juggernaut that has been clearly on a roll, having registered their 11th successive T20 series win in international cricket.

Buoyed by the phenomenal batting form of Babar Azam and old warhorse Mohammad Hafeez, who appeared transformed following his Asia Cup axing, Pakistan have managed to post winning totals on the board with remarkable regularity.

And just how well the bowlers have defended those totals can be gauged from the fact that Pakistan have bowled out the opposition 31 times, the most by any team T20 matches.

That said, how the side has fared in longer formats, such as 50-over ODIs and the five-day Tests, has drawn a mixed reaction; reservations have been expressed over the players’ ability to concentrate beyond 20 overs.

The observation carries some weight since brilliant T20 performers such as Babar Azam, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali and a few others have not really held their own in other formats, especially Test matches.

Critics often cite the lack of first class cricket experience for the failure of the cricketers to do well in the longer versions of the game. Most of the new players are a product of the Pakistan Super League, which is essentially a T20 league and does not provide the players with the kind of exposure that could groom them for the grind of Test cricket.

The selectors would be well advised, therefore, to give these players a good number of three-day matches in domestic cricket to prove their mettle in the longer format prior to selecting them for Test matches.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2018

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