Team Pakistan has been on a roll, continuing its winning streak against South Africa — a formidable force in the game of cricket. The Men in Green first trounced the Proteas at home in January-February this year — winning the Test series 2-0 and the T20I series 2-1. And now in a return tour to South Africa, they have clinched the ODI series 2-1, and are favourites to win the 4-game T20I series that has started yesterday. So Team Pakistan has proved its superiority against South Africans in all three formats of the game.
In a welcome sign this time, the victory credit in the ODI series goes to Pakistan’s batsmen. While Babar Azam continues to live up to his reputation as the mainstay in the batting lineup — scoring 228 runs with the help of a century and a half century — it was Fakhar Zaman who has cemented his position in the team with back-to-back centuries and becoming the top run-getter in the series with 302 runs. Had Fakhar not been trapped into getting lenient towards making his crease while taking a run, he might have had his second double hundred in ODI. His first one, 210 not out, came against Zimbabwe in 2018. With Sharjeel Khan and Mohammad Rizwan also in good form, Pakistan now have a couple of options available for a good opening pair — at least in the shorter versions of the game.
Pakistan’s blowing must be a cause for concern. Despite the availability of too many bowlers with genuine pace, Team Pakistan has not been able to lead with the leather. Bowling coach Waqar Younis, who had been the most dreaded pacer of his times, does not seem successful in utilising his expertise to hone the immense talent he has at his disposal. Search for a quality leg spinner and an all-rounder also continues. While Shadab Khan has been with the team for quite some time in the role of leg-spinner, but he has yet to prove himself to be the only choice. Fahim Ashraf, however, has the potential to step in the shoes of all-rounders Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood.
Good luck Team Pakistan for the T20I series!
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2021.