Mickey Arthur believes Pakistan should move Fakhar Zaman to the top of the order in their T20I side.
Babar Azam’s side succumbed to a five-wicket defeat against India in the Asia Cup on Sunday. Batting first, Pakistan put up a total of 147; opening the batting Babar (10 off nine balls) and Mohammad Rizwan (43 off 42), put on 15 for the first wicket before Fakhar entered the fray. At No.3, the left-hander hit 10 off six.
Speaking after the match, former Pakistan coach Arthur said Pakistan should rejig their top order and promote Fakhar to break up the combination of right-handers currently opening. Babar and Rizwan have been Pakistan’s first-choice opening pair since early 2021, opening together in 24 innings. Together they have put up 1,247 runs at an average of 54.21, including five century stands.
Fakhar, who opens the batting for Pakistan in ODIs, has primarily batted at No.3 in T20Is since the start of last year.
“I think they should [split up Babar and Rizwan],” Arthur told ESPNcricinfo’s T20 Time Out. “It’s different angles – you’ve got a left-hand, right-hander. Fakhar hits the ball in different areas, it flusters the bowlers just a little bit, particularly when you set. When you chase you know exactly what you’ve got to do because the scoreboard tells you [what] to do.
“In terms of blueprint, when I was with Pakistan, and we had a more successful time in T20 cricket, we used to set ourselves up to get 160 batting first and then rely on our bowlers to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. We used to field as best we can, and that was genuinely quite a good recipe for us.
“The difference between that team and the team now is that in the middle we had Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik. In the middle now, they’re a very young outfit, they don’t have much experience. And when you get them three wickets down early, I think they’re going to struggle. Particularly when they set, So definitely for me, spread Babar and Rizwan and you put Fakhar Zaman back to the top of the order.”