Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 November 2019

Pakistan look for batting reinforcements in second T20 with No 1 ranking secure for now

Australia were clearly the better side in washed out opening game at Sydney

Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman, right, has been struggling in the T20 format. AFP
Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman, right, has been struggling in the T20 format. AFP

Pakistan were lucky to avoid defeat in the opening T20 against Australia in Sydney as rain forced the game to be abandoned just 11 balls from the minimum requirement for an official result.

Australia were 41-0 after 3.1 overs, chasing 119 runs in 15, but if they had batted for five overs the hosts would have gone 1-0 up in the three-match series.

The two teams will be at it again on Tuesday for the second T20 in Canberra and Babar Azam’s visitors will have to come up with a markedly better effort to even compete with the Aussies.

Pakistan’s No 1 ranking secure... for now

Australia needed to beat Pakistan 3-0 to retain hopes of climbing to the top of T20 rankings. But since that is not possible, the men in green can breathe a bit more easily as the No 1 team in the format.

But they can’t get too comfortable because if Pakistan (274 ranking points) lose the remaining two matches of the series and England win their T20 series in New Zealand 4-1 – it's currently tied at one each – then the Englishmen, second on 268 points, will become the top-ranked T20 side.

It has been a stunning drop in form for Pakistan in T20s this year. They have lost six out of seven completed matches in 2019 and the fact their reign is now dependent on other results shows how far they have fallen.

Pakistan's Muhammad Rizwan (R) plays a shot during the Twenty20 cricket match between Australia and Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on November 3, 2019. - -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- / AFP / AFP / Saeed KHAN / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE --
Pakistan batsmen struggled to find the boundary ropes in Sydney. AFP

Time for a few changes

Even in the rain-curtailed Sydney T20, a few things became clear. Pakistan fell woefully short in the batting department, with almost all players struggling to clear the boundary ropes; just four were hit by those not wearing a Babar jersey. Opener Fakhar Zaman’s horror run in T20s stretched to 11 innings after his second successive golden duck.

Pakistan have a ready replacement for Fakhar in Imam-ul-Haq. The left-handed batsman has the technique to make some sort of a statement against quality pacers like Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. Nothing is guaranteed but surely Fakhar has been given a long enough rope.

The other change that Pakistan can consider is bringing in hard-hitting middle order batsman Khushdil Shah in place of either Asif Ali or Iftikhar Ahmed.

On the bowling front, there was too much of a sameness to Pakistan’s 'experienced' left-arm pace attack of Wahab Riaz, Mohammed Amir and Mohammed Irfan. Bringing in teenage right-arm fast bowlers Mohammed Hasnain and Musa Khan would not be the worst idea.

Updated: November 4, 2019 03:57 PM

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