How Pakistan lost its magic touch in T20s

A 2-1 series loss to New Zealand and the preceding 3-0 loss to England resulted in Pakistan slipping drastically in the ICC T20 rankings.
How Pakistan lost its magic touch in T20s
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A 2-1 series loss to New Zealand and the preceding 3-0 loss to England resulted in Pakistan slipping drastically in the ICC T20 rankings.

From being the second best side in the world, they are now placed at 7, just above Australia, who have also been dismal in the format, followed by Afghanistan and Scotland in the top ten.

With the World T20 just over a month away, Pakistan's preparation has been far from ideal.

Until a few years ago, the popular perception was that the shorter the game, the better Pakistan was. However, the numbers tell a completely different story. Since the turn of the decade, Pakistan has been a superior Test team as compared to their fortunes in ODIs and T20s. The disparity between results is clear.

This gap becomes even more glaring when you consider results among the top 8 teams i.e. excluding matches against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the past five years.

Pakistan has maintained a steady upwards trend in Test matches over the past five years, winning more than they have lost. In the limited-overs formats, the Green shirts have been found wanting and one apparent reason for this stark difference is the continuity factor.

While Misbah-ul-Haq has been at the helm of the Test team throughout this period, Pakistan has seen the ODI and T20 captaincy change hands several times. From Shahid Afridi to Misbah to Azhar Ali in ODIs and from Afridi to Misbah to Mohammad Hafeez and back to Afridi in T20Is. 

The revolving door scenario can hardly benefit a team. Pakistan's Test team has had a stable batting line up for a long time now, unlike the ODI and T20 teams that have witnessed a lot of chopping and changing.

The difference between the number of players tried by Pakistan at each batting position across formats is also quite evident. Sure one should be more flexible in limited overs games but the number of different batsmen used by Pakistan at each position over the past five years is not only mind-boggling but testament to the fact that players were not provided with an opportunity to settle down in any one position.

What is difficult to understand is why the same board, selection committee, and team management has not applied the Test formula to the other formats. Continuity has been key in ensuring positive results in Tests, so why the impatience in dealing with the ODI and T20 squads?

With the World T20 around the corner, the biggest dilemma facing Pakistan is that of selection. The majority of the squad should have been decided but with Afridi giving statements like "time is running out for Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal", that clearly does not seem to be the case.

The most shocking part about that statement, which resonates with the fans, is that Shehzad and Akmal are two of Pakistan's best batsmen in the shortest format of the game. Not only are both of them among the leading run-scorers for Pakistan in T20Is over the past five years, they also have outstanding averages and strike rates.

I am really not sure what more they need to do to prove their abilities, but both are definitely two key members of Pakistan's T20 team. They just need to win more matches for their side.

There is no reason why any of these five batsmen should not be on the plane to India in March.

While the five batsmen above have displayed consistent form, there have been a few batsmen that have been extremely disappointing. Sohaib Maqsood has always looked out of sorts in T20Is; and it was no different in the recent series against New Zealand and England. Mohammad Rizwan has also been a disappointment in T20s. Haris Sohail and Rafatullah Mohmand have also not displayed anything extraordinary in the few T20s that they have played for Pakistan to consider them.

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