Former skipper Shahid Afridi asked Muhammad Rizwan and Babar Azam not to listen to critics and focus on their game. Skipper Babar Azam and wicket-keeper batsman Muhammad Rizwan share a strong opening duo for Pakistan.
The opening duo is coming under intense criticism as Pakistan struggled with a strong middle order. Pakistan T20 team was exposed with a weak middle order in the plenty of matches played since the Asia Cup 2022 last month. With T20 World Cup just 10 days away, the Pakistan team still seems to struggle with the middle-order crisis. Many commentators have blamed Babar and Rizwan for giving a slow start to the innings that creates pressure on the middle-order batters.
Another group calls it an unjustifiable criticism of Babar Azam and Muhammad Rizwan. They believe it is the opening duo that supports the batting line-up of Pakistan. Pakistan lacks reliable and consistent batters in the absence of these two openers.
Batting coach Muhammad Yousuf has also said that changing the opening pair ahead of T20 World Cup is ‘risky’. “For the last two years, the pair have been playing at the top. No talk has taken place about it, and with the World Cup ahead, there shouldn’t be any change,” Yousuf said during a post-match media talk after New Zealand handed a nine-wicket defeat to Pakistan.
“It’s risky to take such a chance. Rizwan was the Player of the Match in the first match, after which Babar won the award,” Yousuf said.
Defending Rizwan, Shahid Afridi said, “We should thank God for Rizwan and the way he is playing he should not listen to anyone,” said Afridi.
He came a bit harsh at Babar Azam and asked him to ‘think big. Afridi called Babar’s statement of the target of 160 runs against Bangladesh a ‘mediocre approach. “If you are thinking of a target of 160 runs against Bangladesh, then what would be your approach against big teams?” Afridi questioned.
“Therefore, Babar should have a bigger approach as he is among the top 3 in the world’s ranking and also a daring player,” advises Afridi.