In a surprising move ahead of the T20I series against New Zealand, Pakistan’s management decision to break the formidable opening partnership of Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam has left the players acknowledging the impact of the change. Rizwan, the wicketkeeper-batsman, expressed his sentiments, stating that the decision has indeed hurt Pakistan’s performance in the series.
Babar Azam and Rizwan had formed one of the most reliable opening pairs for the Men in Green in T20Is, consistently delivering strong performances. With over five 150+ stands to their name, including a record-breaking 203* partnership, the duo showcased their chemistry at the top of the order. However, the management’s decision to demote Babar to No. 3 in the batting lineup to accommodate Saim Ayub has not yielded the desired results over the first four matches of the series.
Speaking at a press conference after the fourth T20I, Rizwan acknowledged that the decision to split the opening pair was a mutual one, with both players agreeing to the management’s call. However, he expressed the belief that there was no need to change something that was already working well for the team.
“You can say that it [breaking the opening pair] has hurt Pakistan. I can say that Babar bhai has a big heart. We both agreed that there is no issue [in splitting the opening pair]. We both told the management that they can try whatever combination they want. The difficulty arises when you break things that were already working well. However, management is looking at what can be extracted best from different combinations,” Rizwan stated as quoted by Cricket Pakistan.
Despite the challenges brought about by the change, Mohammad Rizwan showcased his batting prowess in the fourth T20I, scoring an unbeaten 90 off 63 balls in Christchurch on Friday. Despite his efforts, Pakistan could only post a competitive total of 159, and the hosts secured victory by five wickets.
As Pakistan evaluates their strategies ahead of the remaining matches, the spotlight remains on the impact of splitting the dynamic opening partnership and the team’s quest to find the right combination for success in the T20I series against New Zealand.
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