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T20 World Cup 2022

Should Shoaib Malik have been picked in Pakistan’s T20 World Cup squad?

Should Shoaib Malik Have Been Picked In Pakistan’s T20 World Cup Squad?
by Katya Witney 3 minute read

As an early exit from the 2022 T20 World Cup looms for Pakistan, the selection of the squad which travelled to Australia has come under fire for its omission of veteran all-rounder, Shoaib Malik.

Pakistan’s narrow defeat to Zimbabwe on Thursday exposed their middle order yet again. Under pressure after the failure of both Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan to build a platform early in the innings, they not only rapidly collapsed, but failed to score at a rate that would have seen them comfortably past Zimbabwe’s relatively low total.

That defeat, as well as their narrow loss to India, means that unless they win all of their further matches and have other results go their way, a side tipped as potential favourites before the tournament will crash out before the knock-out stage of the tournament. Following the conclusion of the match against Zimbabwe, legendary former Pakistan quick Wasim Akram appeared on an Ary Sports panel alongside Malik. He used the platform to criticise both captain Babar and the team Pakistan selectors for their decision not to include the veteran all-rounder in the World Cup squad.


Akram said: “The end goal of the captain should be how he can win the World Cup. For that, if I have to make a ‘donkey a hero’, I will do it. I am going to win the World Cup. If I want Malik in the middle order, I will make sure and tell that to the chairman of selectors that I won’t captain the side unless I get my player in the middle order.”

Malik, 40, is one of the a handful of active cricketers who had made their international debuts in the 20th century. He last played a T20I last November, during Pakistan’s tour of Bangladesh. He was called up as an injury replacement for Sohaib Maqsood in the 2021 T20 World Cup, where he struck an 18-ball fifty against Scotland to help Pakistan finish top of the group before they lost their semi-final to eventual winners Australia.

Since then, he has been playing franchise and domestic T20 cricket as Pakistan geared up for the current tournament in Australia. Considering the criticism Pakistan’s middle order has copped and how much they continue to rely on Rizwan and Babar up top, it is easy to see the appeal of including a player who averages over 30 and has a strike rate of 172 from his last eight T20Is. Given that Malik was also part of Pakistan’s World Cup-winning campaign in 2009 and is a former Pakistan captain, his experience and leadership qualities also have their appeal.

Had he been included in the squad, he would most likely have batted at four or five, replacing one of Iftikhar Ahmed, Asif Ali and Haider Ali, all of whom have been fairly inconsistent. While the middle-order managed to put together a competitive total against India, thanks mostly to fifties from Shan Masood and Iftikhar as well as a cameo from Shaheen Shah Afridi, their 5-8 all posted single-digit figures. Against Zimbabwe, Pakistan slipped from 88-3 to 94-6.

Malik’s figures from the last two years of his T20I career suggest that he could be a potential solution to the frequency of middle-order collapses and strike rate slumps Pakistan have endured. Between the beginning of 2020 and the end of 2021, he averages 43.00 and strikes at above 150, considerably better stats than any of the current batters coming in below No.3.

However, it must be taken into account that Malik was not required to bat in six of the 13 matches Malik played over this period. In other words, he was seldom tested, and his presence may not be able to address Pakistan’s most pressing worry. In this World Cup and for the most part in its build-up, Pakistan’s star opening pair of Babar and Rizwan has not been in the kind of form that has seen them dominate the T20I batting rankings for the last 18 months.

In the two matches they have played so far, they have scored 22 runs between them from 38 balls, pressurising an already fragile middle-order. Regardless of Malik’s inclusion, unless Pakistan are unable to sort out their problems up top, no amount of tinkering with the middle-order will be able to drag them back into contention in this tournament.

Bet365 will be Live Streaming all of the T20 World Cup matches direct to your iPhone, iPad or Android device, as well as desktop. This means that every T20 World Cup

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