Christchurch, Oct 9 (Ajit Weekly News) Shadab Khan’s cameo in Pakistan’s six-wicket win against New Zealand in a Tri-series match here has given Babar Azam plenty of options and the skipper indicated he has a “plan” for the cricketer in the ICC T20 World Cup, commencing on October 16.
Pakistan overhauled New Zealand’s target of 147, with Shadab, who was sent up the order, scoring 34 off just 22 balls to help his team achieve victory with 10 balls to spare.
“Definitely, we have a plan to send Shadab up to charge the bowlers, to utilise his skills,” said Babar Azam, who himself scored an unbeaten 79 as Pakistan completed the task in 18.2 overs for the loss of four wickets.
It was the first time Shadab has batted at No. 4 in a T20I and the 24-year-old slammed two fours and two sixes in a crucial 61-run stand with Azam to give the 2009 champions hope in the T20 World Cup.
This was Pakistan’s second consecutive victory in the Tri-series.
“Me and Shadab decided that I was going all the way and he would take the chances,” said Babar. “When we settled down and assessed the wicket, I decided I was going to play to the end and managed to do that.”
Babar and Mohammad Rizwan form a formidable combination at the top of the order and look set to continue that partnership in the T20 World Cup in Australia, but who comes in after them for Pakistan remains to be seen, according to ICC.
Haider Ali batted at four in Pakistan’s tri-series opener against Bangladesh, while left-hander Shan Masood and fellow veteran Iftikhar Ahmed have also been used in the position recently with various degrees of success.
But Shadab’s promotion up the order could be what the doctor ordered for Pakistan going into the T20 World Cup. With his aggressive batting, the right-hander, who has played with Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League, has proved he can thrive in the crucial batting position.
Shadab hit 91 off 42 balls batting at No. 4 against the Multan Sultans earlier this year and can be dangerous for opposition teams at the T20 World Cup if he can replicate this type of form. Pakistan have two more matches to go in the Tri-series, with Shadab likely to get another chance to show his skills during games against the New Zealand in Christchurch on October 11 and Bangladesh on October 13.
The team has two warm-up games in Australia — against England at The Gabba on October 17 and Afghanistan on October 19 — before their T20 World Cup Super-12 clash against India at the MCG on October 23.
–Ajit Weekly News
News Credits – I A N S