Pakistan level T20I series in 9-run victory against New Zealand

In the fifth and last T-20 match at Lahore, Pakistan beat New Zealand by 9 runs, leveling the series 2-2.

Batting first, Pakistan scored 178 runs for the loss of five wickets in allotted 20 overs.

In reply, New Zealand were all out on 169 runs in 19.2 overs.

The five-match series drew 2-2 with Pakistan winning the second and fifth T20I while New Zealand got victories in the third and fourth matches. Meanwhile, the first encounter in Rawalpindi was called off due to rain.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Pakistan Cricket – The Fixed and The Fluid

To say that the winds of change have disturbed Pakistan cricket’s mojo over the last year and half would be an understatement. We’re not talking about any mere breeze here either, but a tornado of volatility which effectively shook the foundations of a fairly stable squad, bringing with it high doses of insecurity and consequent underperformance, along with a hint of mutiny as well, perhaps.

With the PCB switching chairmen at a frequency higher than the rate at which Waqar Younis fumbles names of cricketers in the commentary box, instability has been at the forefront in the national setup, which has had a domino effect on both the team’s results and unity alike.

Post Mickey Arthur’s second tenure at the helm of team management, Pakistan’s coaching ensemble has failed to hold the fort for more than one international assignment.

As for Pakistan’s captaincy position, Babar Azam has gone from enjoying undisputed power as all-format captain under Ramiz Raja’s chairmanship, to being ruthlessly challenged in a p
ower struggle with multiple chairmen who succeeded Ramiz.

This led to his eventual sacking from the top job in an unceremonious fashion, only for him to be awarded limited overs captaincy once again in approximately 5 months, with less than 60 days to go till the start of the T20 World Cup.

Think of taking a handful of Carolina Reapers, a glass full of shaved ice, a few drops of Absinthe, a teaspoon of python venom, and a rabid frog with a hopping disability, tossed into a blender, with the lid coming off midway.

That has been Pakistan cricket in a nutshell in this last little while, staying true to its historic chaotic nature – chaos that had evaded the institution for a small window in between, which at this point seems like some sort of parallel universe lost to the sands of time, and politics.

In the midst of all of this unwelcome mayhem, however, there are elements in Pakistan’s T20 cricket which remain immovable, much like a sunken Titanic on the ocean floor.

The batting approach, for one, is seemi
ngly aimed at reaching par scores on a consistent basis, as opposed to shooting for the moon, which in this case would be akin to having the audacity to attempt totals which are above par.

Make no mistake of the fact that this modus operandi has worked for Pakistan in the not-so-distant past, courtesy of their fabled strike bowling prowess. They have made the finals and semifinals of the previous two editions of the T20 World Cup, after all.

That said, with the bowlers dropping in form of late, it is a playing style which seems woefully outdated compared to the run boom modern T20 cricket is currently experiencing, and therefore, seems futile in the sense that when it does not work, there is no plan B, and the game is all but lost.

To make matters worse, every opportunity Pakistan’s men’s team has gotten to alter this gameplan, and/or experiment their way to working out other methods of success, their timid batting, particularly in the middle overs, has held them back like a Ferrari in quicksand.

Even wit
h the Babar and Rizwan opening pair disbanded, Pakistan’s middle overs returns with the bat are criminally underwhelming, which might even be a lenient assessment, if I’m being completely honest.

Since the T20 World Cup back in 2022, in which Pakistan were finalists, the team has scored at roughly 7.3 runs per over in overs 7 to 15, which is the second lowest scoring rate in this period amongst all Test playing nations, only ahead of Afghanistan and Zimbabwe. For context, Australia and South Africa, who are at the top of this list, are scoring at 9.75 and 9.35 per over, respectively.

Do the math, and that amounts to about a 20+ run deficit, on average, at the minimum.

Here is the run rate of every side in the middle-phase (overs 7-15) of the innings since the 2022 T20 World Cup:

Furthermore, Pakistan are averaging slightly less than 5 sixes per innings in 46 T20Is in the last two years. Only Ireland, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have a lower six per game ratio amongst full member nations, and the West Indies l
ead this particular chart with an average of 9+ sixes per T20I, in 32 games in the same period.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that in the last two years, Pakistan have crossed the 200 mark only once in the shortest format, which is a statistic that yearns for amplified impact with the bat.

Most team sixes since T20 World Cup 2022:

Team Matches Sixes Sixes/Match

West Indies 32 292 9.13

India 60 466 7.77

Australia 29 220 7,59

South Africa 26 177 6.81

England 34 222 6.53

New Zealand 55 332 6.04

Sri Lanka 33 191 5.79

Afghanistan 39 208 5.33

Pakistan 45 224 4.96

Ireland 38 189 4.97

Zimbabwe 44 195 4.43

The notion that Pakistan’s batting unit is leaving runs out on the field every time they take the field is gaining steam with every passing game, packaged as relentless criticism from all corners, which at this point, even the most fanatical supporters of the team can not deny.

Of course, there are resources that Pakistan’s selectors and team management have at their disposal which can help solv
e this lack of impetus, such as the likes of the now-dropped belligerent wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Haris, and the perennially underutilized T20 all-rounder Shadab Khan, who despite being a middle overs destroyer of spin, barely ever gets to bat at his optimal entry point.

In the instances where he has been introduced at number 4 or 5 in the middle phase of the game, he has barely ever disappointed. It is, by the way, a role he fulfills to near perfection on the regular for his PSL franchise, current champions Islamabad United – a side which he captains.

In the recently concluded 5 match T20I series at home vs a depleted New Zealand outfit, Pakistan, in dramatic fashion, failed to secure victory, with the scoreline ending in a 2-2 stalemate.

The inexperienced visitors drew level with an almost full-strength home side, who just for the record, had been written off by the local media in words that eventually came back to bite them, in a sequence of events which can be best described as karmic justice in th
e face of unwarranted arrogance.

What is more critical than the gloomy result, however, is that Pakistan failed to rectify any of its glaring strategic errors, which meant that yet another meaningless bilateral series had been wasted, with limited growth from a team perspective.

The fact that Pakistan failed to score 180 runs in a single innings on their home patch lays testament to that claim, and while there may have been some major learnings, there has been negligible promise when it comes to implementation and execution of plans.

Babar Azam, who has upped his scoring rate significantly in the powerplay, has shown a penchant to slow down in the middle overs almost religiously, and Fakhar Zaman has proven to be an anchoring batter at number four, which on its own is a flatout bizarre reality.

*Data and graph by Varun Alvakonda

Newcomer Usman Khan hasn’t been able to stamp his authority either, much like he did so brutally during the last two editions of the PSL, in a Multan shirt.

Pakistan are repeati
ng the same old template of leaving far too much run scoring for the final five overs, with Shadab Khan remaining an anomaly in the mix, who hasn’t nearly gotten as many deliveries to bat as he should have, particularly against New Zealand’s tweakers.

You can put Saim Ayub in the same boat of brisk run-scorers, but the southpaw’s dearth of runs could now cost him a spot in the starting XI, potentially.

Babar Azam’s troops have 7 T20Is vs Ireland and England in the build up to the T20 World Cup in June, but still seem to be convinced that the tortoise always beats the hare.

There may yet be enough time to right these wrongs, but in order to achieve that, unified buy-in is required from the contingent, which seems to be non-existent in the Pakistan camp.

Take for instance the contradicting statements from skipper Babar Azam, head coach Azhar Mahmood, and former vice-captain Shadab Khan, in the direct aftermath of the 3rd T20I in Rawalpindi.

The winds of change, as strong as they have been in Pakistan crick
et’s direction, have without doubt unruffled the sturdiest of feathers, but some core components which are integral to the way the national team plays T20 cricket, remain static as ever.

Source: Pro Pakistani

OFFICIAL: Pakistan Appoints Separate Red-Ball and White-Ball Foreign Head Coaches

Pakistan has made significant strides in its cricketing strategy, appointing Gary Kirsten and Jason Gillespie as head coaches while interim head coach, Azhar Mahmood will be the permanent assistant coach in all formats.

Kirsten, designated for white-ball cricket, will lead the team until the 2026 T20 World Cup in India and Sri Lanka.

Gillespie, set to helm the red-ball format, will commence his role before the Test series against Bangladesh in August 2024. Both coaches are appointed for a two-year term.

Kirsten, currently engaged with the Gujarat Titans in the ongoing IPL 2024, will transition to his new responsibility before the T20 World Cup, bringing invaluable experience from coaching stints with India and South Africa.

Gillespie, celebrated for his prowess in fast bowling, will inject fresh energy into Pakistan’s Test squad, beginning his tenure with the Bangladesh series.

The appointment of these seasoned mentors underscores Pakistan’s commitment to strategic planning and long-term success in cric

With Kirsten and Gillespie at the helm, Pakistan anticipates a revitalization of its cricketing fortunes across formats, igniting hope and excitement among fans for the journey ahead.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Lahore Latest Weather Update Ahead of Final Pak-NZ T20I

Chances for the 5th T20I match between Pakistan and New Zealand seemed gloomy yesterday, but the weather conditions have changed drastically overnight and the match is expected to be held tonight at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore although there can be a few disruptions due to rain in the first innings.

Pakistan is expected to make changes from the previous game as Abrar Ahmed can come in for Usama Mir and Shaheen Shah Afridi can replace Zaman Khan in the last game of the series.

Usama Mir had an economy rate of 10.75 and Zaman Khan registered an economy of 11.67 in the last match as both the bowlers bowled 7 overs between them.

Tim Robinson’s 51 off 36 balls helped the Kiwis triumph over Pakistan in the 4th T20I by 4 runs as New Zealand sealed a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

A thrilling encounter awaits Pakistan in the last match of the series where a win can help the hosts salvage some pride while defeat will mean that the Men in Green faltered at home against a depleted Kiwi side.

The average first inni
ngs score in Gaddafi Stadium is 162 whereas the second innings score while chasing is 145.

Weather Report:

Weather predictions indicate cloudy skies with a 20% chance of rainfall. Humidity levels are forecasted to be around 37% for the area, while the temperature will remain steady at about 35 degrees Celsius.

Pitch Report:

The pitch is anticipated to be favorable for batters, providing good bounce and carry. Although pacers might get some early support, it’s likely to decrease as the game goes on. Spinners may become more influential as the pitch dries out later in the match.

The fifth T20I match will be played in Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore on April 20 from 7:30 PM.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Serial World Record-Breaker Returns Petty Grant After Getting Disrespected by KP Govt

South Waziristan athlete, Irfan Mehsood holding 100 Guinness Book of World Records has returned Rs. 500,000 awarded by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sports Department’s officers.

Mehsood has broken 100 world records in the martial arts and fitness category expressing his discontent over the obnoxious behavior of the KP Sports Department.

During a video, that he posted on X, the athlete recounted his interaction with the Provincial Sports Minister, Secretary, and Director General was insulting revealing that he asked for help to acquire equipment for his club but instead of providing him with assistance, they started bargaining for Rs. 200,000 with him which was disrespectful.

While expressing his resentment over the misbehavior of the government officials he said, ‘I asked the sports adviser for equipment for my club, ‘They started bargaining with me, asking me to take Rs200,000.’If you can’t respect us, don’t insult us.’

Irfan had broken the record of Italy’s Marcello Ferri in the weightlifting category and co
mpleted a century of Guinness World Records. Ferri set a world record by lifting 56kg, while Irfan defeated him by lifting 63kg.

He also holds the maximum of 46 records in the world for the push-ups category, He has also cemented 31 records with 100 pounds, including 80 pounds, 60 pounds, and 40 pounds.

Through his achievements he has garnered national recognition, leading to him being honored with the Presidential Pride of Performance Award in April 2023.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Here’s Pakistan’s Likely XI for 5th T20I Against New Zealand

Pakistan will look to fight back in the last T20I match of the series to salvage some pride with a draw following a shocking defeat against the Kiwis in the fourth T20I match at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore on Thursday.

Pressure is mounting after the defeat in the fourth T20I series on Babar Azam’s men as the Black Caps lead the series by 2-1 as the Men in Green faltered in the last over by 4 runs while chasing a target of 179.

However, the final composition of Pakistan’s playing eleven still, remains a subject of intrigue, with regular wicket-keeper batter Mohammad Rizwan suffering an injury which has ruled him out of contention.

Fakhar Zaman was the only batter who displayed some fighting spirit in the run-chase with a scintillating knock of 61 runs off 45 deliveries, although his strike rate of 135.56 was extremely poor by his standards.

Pakistan’s main concern is the strike rate of the top-order considering that Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam did not capitalize on Saim Ayub’s quickfire knock in the last m

Shaheen Afridi can be included in the playing XI instead of Zaman Khan as Pakistan might need their talisman speedster to level the series in the last match to salvage pride.

Leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed is another option in the ranks who can replace Usama Mir who was extremely expensive with the ball alongside Zaman Khan as both the bowlers had an economy rate of more than 10 runs per over.

The Men in Green will face the Kiwis at 7 pm tonight at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

Here is the expected playing XI:

Babar Azam (c)

Saim Ayub

Fakhar Zaman

Usman Khan (wk)

Iftikhar Ahmed

Shadab Khan

Imad Wasim

Shaheen Shah Afridi

Mohammad Amir

Abrar Ahmed

Abbas Afridi

Source: Pro Pakistani

Which Team Will Otis Khan Play for if Pakistan Premier League Returns?

Pakistan’s left winger Otis Khan, known for his dribbling skills and goal-scoring ability, expressed his desire to play for Faisalabad if the Pakistan Premier League returns as the country’s premier football league.

Otis Khan’s grandfather migrated to Faisalabad from Delhi and resided there for many years before moving to England where the footballer was born.

On his Instagram story, during a question-answer session with the fans he was asked which club will he play for if there is a league structure in Pakistan in the future.

In response, the former Manchester United academy graduate said, ‘Has to be where my family is, Faisalabad.’

Currently, he is playing for Hartlepool United on loan from Grimsby Town in the fifth tier of English football as he made the loan move in the last week of the January transfer window.

Otis Khan,28, joined Grimsby Town, back in July 2022 on a two-year contract, which is about to end in the summer of this year. The British-Pakistani player represented Grimsby Town in 45 matc
hes across all competitions and scored 6 goals. All of those goals were scored last season.

The Hartlepool United footballer can play for clubs such as Masha United and Lyallpur FC in Faisalabad if the Pakistan Premier League ever comes back and the Pakistan Football Federation organizes it regularly.

The left winger made debut for Pakistan in a 3-0 defeat against Mauritius on 11 June 2023 and has earned 8 caps for Pakistan in his International career.

Unfortunately, he missed both matches against Jordan in the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Round 2 in March due to an injury from which he has still not recovered yet.

Source: Pro Pakistani