The T20 series with the Kiwis is evenly poised with New Zealand leveling it in style in the second T20. The third game is crucial as Pakistan look to avoid back to back series defeats.
Despite respectable totals on the board, the management is concerned over lack of performance at the top of proceedings. The world witnessed how Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson delivered with the bat. They were hardly under pressure and chased the total with ease.
The last game indeed showed how important it is to get the flow going right from the word go. It helps in gaining momentum for rest of the game.
The visitors are shaky at the top and this story is getting lengthy with every match. Consistent flop shows at the top are not allowing team Pakistan to excel in the desired manner.
An opener is more than often showing his back in the power play overs. The average strike rate is just over 7, which quite evidently is sluggish on these small grounds.
The problem here is clearly the out form Ahmed Shehzad. He is not among the runs and is desperate for a power pack display with the bat.
Is dropping Shehzad a wise option?
Shehzad has so far failed to live up to expectations. Afridi has shown his trust in him time after time. However, the skipper can shift the wicket keeper batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed at the top with someone like Anwer Ali in the lineup as an all-rounder in the late middle order at the expense of Shehzad.
The bigger picture to this is settling to the bounce and swing generated through the new ball. Opting for Sarfaraz at the top can be risky and may disturb the entire lineup. On the other hand, Hafeez looks in better shape as he enters the game with better numbers.
Who should bat at 3?
SohaibMaqsood looks completely out of touch as he is expected to be on the bench for the final game. The opposite camp has a solid hitter at 3, who carries the ability to change the game on his own.
In terms of options, Pakistan can ask one of its most sensible players, Shoaib Malik, to bat at 3. He knows the art of playing as a lynchpin with the ability to explode at the right time.
On the whole, Pakistan must go all guns blazing in order to counter the fire power of New Zealand. Openers are always vital in any form of the game, with this big game approaching; Pakistani top order must deliver big time as the Shaheens look to clinch the series.