BY KAUKAB AZHAR
Pakistan managed to win a closely contested series against South Africa by three games to one. First and the fourth game could have gone either way as Pakistan left it to the last over to defeat a depleted South African squad.
Following are the top five learnings that Pakistan can take away from the series:
1) Babar Azam can shift gears
There was a lot of criticism on Babar Azam’s style of batting in T20Is but he proved it all wrong in the third match with a majestic century. He showed glimpses of his newly found aggression in the third ODI as well in which he missed out on the century by just six runs.
Can he do it on a more consistent basis? Babar has added another dimension to the game and that has made him ever so dangerous.
2) Irreplaceable Imad Wasim?
Imad Wasim was dropped from the squad for non-cricketing reasons. Although Nawaz made a strong case for his permanent selection, Imad was missed in the powerplay and with the bat to finish games off.
Scores of 48/2, 58/2, 65/0 and 53/1 conceded in the powerplay show how badly Pakistan wanted Imad’s control and calmness. Imad has a career economy rate of 6.22 which is exceptionally good considering him bowling in the powerplay.
3) Haider Ali: Another Umar Akmal in the making?
Haider Ali announced himself in grand style against England in England with a blistering fifty. Scoring 29 runs in the series, it was the manner he got out that let the team down. Flamboyant, aggressive, and stylish but impatient, senseless, and irresponsible; Haider seems to be influenced by Umar Akmal’s school of batting.
4) Batting Combination
There was a lot of skepticism when Rizwan was promoted to the top of the order but he has made the spot his own. The batting combination looks settled and strong with Babar and Rizwan at the top followed by the attacking Fakhar and experienced Hafeez. All they need to do is find replacement for Haider and Asif. Misbah might look to hand debuts to Danish and Azam or might turn towards the old horses Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood and Iftikhar Ahmed.
5) Shaheen’s excessive workload taking a toll
There have been plenty of calls on managing Shaheen’s workload but he wasn’t rested for even a single match on the tour. He managed to pick up only 3 wickets in the series with an economy rate of over 8.
Shaheen will be disappointed with this performance as he sets high benchmarks for himself. He must be given a well-deserved rest against Zimbabwe. Hasnain and Waseem are quite capable replacements who need more opportunities to gain confidence at the international level.