It was never anticipated to end like this. The seven-match T20I series between Pakistan and England did go to the wire, but the last game turned out to be a huge anticlimax. What was being billed as ‘Super Sunday finale’ saw the hosts outplayed in all departments of the game by the visiting English team at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. Having plundered 209 runs in the allotted 20 overs at a staggering 10.45 runs an over, England practically finished the game in just eight balls into the Pakistan innings. Once openers Babar Azam and Muhammad Rizwan were removed, with just 5 runs on the board, the Greenshirst had an impossible task in front of them, given a middle order that has been in disarray throughout the series against England, and before that in Asia Cup. The end result was a humiliating 67-run defeat for Babar Eleven in the series decider.

The series was supposed to serve as an opportunity for Team Pakistan to test all the firepower in its arsenal and come up with a winning combination for the ICC T20 World Cup starting October 16. Nothing, however, seems certain as far as team combination is concerned — except that Babar and Rizwan will be opening the innings. That there was no innings of note from any of Shan Masood, Haider Ali, Khushdil Shah, Iftikhar Ahmed, Asif Ali or Muhammad Nawaz must be a matter of huge concern for batting coach, Muhammad Yousuf. And while in the bowling line-up, Shadab Khan is certain to fill the space for a spinner, there are no automatic choices among the pacers, except for Haris Rauf to partner Shaheen Shah Afridi provided he gets fit in time.

Based on their performance in the England series and Asia Cup, it will be nothing short of a miracle even if Greenshirts have their blushes spared.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2022.

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