Pakistan’s cricketers were able to claim a consolation win against Afghanistan, as their largely second-string side defeated the Afghans by 66 runs.
Batting first after being put in by opposition captain Rashid Khan, tourists Pakistan posted 182-7, which was largely thanks to Saim Ayub (49 off 40 balls) and Iftikhar Ahmed (31 off 25 balls).
Throughout this series, Mohammed Harris has been deputising for Mohammed Rizwan and Saim Ayub has been the other opener, in the place of regular opener and captain Babar Azam.
So often the criticism has been of Pakistan, that they rely too much on Babar and Rizwan, this series was their chance to prove that they can do it without them. Bar Monday’s win, arguably the men in green are still reliant on their two openers.
After a good PSL season, both openers merited their chance at the top of the order, In different games, both Ayub and Harris impressed in Pakistani colours.
Further down the batting line-up, Tayyab Tahir who has long been touted by journalists to be a part of Pakistan’s batting line-up didn’t get going. Tahir threatened to show his domestic form in a more international arena but hasn’t been able to fully just yet.
Out of the many experiments that Babar Azam’s side have done, the experiment of Tayyab Tahir didn’t quite work. That could also be said of Azam Khan, the very skilful wicket-keeper batsman, who smashed a T20 hundred in the PSL for Islamabad United.
Khan has been scoring heavily in global franchise cricket but hasn’t yet been able to take this form to the international arena. One player who has been is Karachi Kings captain Imad Wasim.
The Swansea-born all-rounder has carried on his superb form with the bat in this year’s PSL, to the three-match series with Afghanistan. Maybe 10 years ago, Pakistan would have won this series, even with a severely depleted squad of players that they were choosing from.
But Afghanistan are a team on the up. They have arguably the best spinner in world cricket in the shape of Rashid Khan, and at the top of their batting, they have power hitters, who can help them get fast starts whilst batting.
For Babar Azam and the rest of the Pakistani management, one of the things that they can take away from this series is that Imad Wasim is in some of the best form of his career. Babar needs to find a space for him in the side, maybe as a power hitter/finisher who can bowl as a sixth bowler?
Bowling-wise, Ihsanullah has been a good find and is a bowler who can
trouble international batsmen. Zaman Khan is another one, who also enhanced his reputation on this tour.
For whatever reason Shadab Khan doesn’t have a good record whenever he stands in for Babar Azam as captain.
Although some bruising defeats, if you were to look at the losses to Afghanistan with a short-term vision, long-term wise and in preparation for New Zealand, this could be exactly what they needed.
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