In April, they thrashed West Indies at home and a couple of months later, travelled to Scotland and won the two games they played there. Next stop was Harare in July, where Pakistan lost just one match in the tri-nation series and were victorious beating Australia in the final. Since October, they have whitewashed Australia and New Zealand.
Pakistan have not lost a T20I series since the World T20 at the start of 2016, making them the only outfit to have won 11 consecutive series. Sarfraz Ahmed, whose captaincy in the 50-overs format is still under the scanner, seems to have found a winning formula in T20Is.
Opening bowling doing the damage
T20Is began in 2005 purely as a batsman’s format. However, in the last few years the bowlers have tightened their grip with plenty of focus on attack and picking wickets (and little on containing). Pakistan have been exceptional in taking wickets, especially in the Powerplays.
Since January 2016, Mohammad Amir has the best bowling average in the world at 18.07, followed by teammate Imad Wasim at 18.62. In recent matches, Faheem Ashraf has partnered Wasim in the absence of Amir, and the duo have given good returns.
Giving very little away
Considering a minimum of 10 innings, Pakistan’s economy rate of 7.08 is the lowest in the last two years. They also have the third-best bowling average of 21.97.
Pakistan sending back 36 players for a duck since 2016 is the most by any team. During this time, the average batting strike rate against Pakistan is a mere 114.27.
Their bowling has been particularly effective in the opening six overs, not allowing the opposition top order to lay the foundation for a good score. Considering a minimum of 20 innings, a 6.4 average economy rate in the first six overs since January 2016 puts Pakistan on top with India taking the second spot at 7.24.
During this period, Shadab Khan has pocketed 42 wickets and has been well supported by Hasan Ali (33 scalps).
Support act in the field
Pakistan is fortunate to have quite a few safe hands in the field. They have taken the most number of catches (112) in the T20Is since January 2017 – thus the fielding is complimenting the bowling. The popular cricket phrase “Catches win matches” is totally apt in Pakistan’s case.
Contribution by Batsmen
Babar Azam, the man who passed Virat Kohli to become the fastest to score 1000 T20I runs recently, has been instrumental in Pakistan’s dominance. This year, he averages a staggering 62.55 and has been well supported by the old warhorse Shoaib Malik, who is Pakistan’s highest run-getter in the format: 2178 runs in 107 matches.
Since his return to the team in October earlier this year, Hafeez averages 81 and is the team’s joint highest boundary-scorer (29). Babar, Malik, and Hafeez may not be the modern-day brutes but they are amongst the finest run-accumulators in the game.
Pakistan also have an impeccable record while batting second. Since 2016, they have won 13 out of 16 games chasing. Twelve out of these 13 successful chases have been by 6 wickets or more, adding more weight to their chasing credentials.
Pakistan seem to have all the ingredients of a great T20I side.
First Published: November 14, 2018, 10:31 AM IST