LAHORE: As the Pakistan’s middle-order capitulated in the first Twenty20 International against England at National Stadium Karachi on Tuesday, the national team players came under fire again. Former Pakistan Test batter Younis Ahmed also expressed his concerns on the matter.

The 74-year-old said that Pakistan needs a quality batter in the middle order who can tilt the match in the team’s favour in a few overs.

“The middle-order problems were again exposed in yesterday’s match against England as after taking a good opening start we were expecting Pakistan to make a total of 170 plus but again the middle order failed to deliver a good finish to the innings,” Younis said while talking to media here on Wednesday.

“It is good that England is visiting Pakistan after a long gap of 17 years and we hope for a good competitive series. But the way the English team played the first match without three top players in the playing XI, that was fantastic and a warning to the Pakistan team to play with all bases covered in the remaining six matches,” he said.

Pakistan were off to a flying start in the series opener but then wheels came off as the middle-order failed to capitalise. A target of 158 was easily chased down by England. It was reminiscent of the team’s struggles in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka earlier this month despite bringing in Haider Ali and Shan Masood to beef up that weak link.

Younis — who made his ODI debut against India in 1987 — said he had hoped Pakistan would annex the Asia Cup title when they defeated arch-rivals India in the Super Four Stage but was heartbroken when Sri Lanka blew away the national team.

“That was an old story,” said Younis, “Now all focus must be on the remaining matches of the home series against England as well as the World Cup to be held next month in Australia.”

Younis also urged the PCB to make changes in the starting XI if they want to produce results in the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia.

“Other teams had a good number of batters in the middle-order who could change the match situation within three or four overs and that would be vital in the shortest format of the game.” he said.

Younis was banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board in 1973 due to his tour to South Africa to play for DH Robins XI. At that time, South Africa was a banned country due to its apartheid policy.

Though the ban was rescinded in 1979, Younis could not stage a comeback in the national team until 1987 when he toured India under the captaincy of Imran Khan.

Younis, who played four Test matches for Pakistan, advised PCB to arrange regular international tours for Junior and A teams which in the past had delivered a lot in producing polished cricketers to the national side.

He said the PCB was also lacking in arranging regular international tours for its Junior and A teams, which in the past delivered a lot of polished cricketers to the national side.

Younis also said that departmental cricket must be restored as it had served Pakistan cricket a lot in the past

“The cricketers not only earned money through departmental cricket they were also groomed under a more professional atmosphere,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2022

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