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November 6, 2018

On the upswing


November 6, 2018

The numbers tell the entire story. The Pakistan T20 cricket team has now won eight matches in a row – just three off the world record – and a stunning 11 consecutive series. The 3-0 whitewashes of both Australia and New Zealand in the UAE have cemented Pakistan’s status as not only the best T20 cricket team in the world but perhaps one of the best in history. We have been so consistently dominant in this most unpredictable form of the game that the gap between Pakistan and second-placed India at the top of the world rankings is as large as that between India and the sixth-placed team. Pakistan is a team that can do no wrong at the moment. In the third match of the series against New Zealand, it looked as if the Kiwis were strolling to victory before we ran through their batting line up to take eight wickets for just 33 runs. Pakistan has now beaten every possible challenger both at home and away, and this too while playing only a minimal amount of cricket at home. For a team that has always been exasperating in its inconsistency, we have become predictable winners every time we take to the old.

Particular praise needs to be reserved for top-order batsman Babar Azam. In the final match of the New Zealand series, he broke the record for the fastest to reach 1000 international T20 runs, beating the mark set by Virat Kohli. Pakistan’s bowling attack is a perfect mixture of pace and spin while even our fielding is no longer the joke it once was. There are still some improvements needed, as our poor performance in the Asia Cup showed but for now, with a World Cup looming this summer, the cause for optimism is high. Youngsters like Shadab Khan and Fakhar Zaman have become an integral part of the team while the more experienced Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Hafeez still cannot be dislodged in their late-30s. It is worth mentioning too that Pakistan women’s cricket team is on a similar upswing. Just a year ago, it had lost every single match in the ODI World Cup for the second successive time, leading to captain Sania Mir being sacked. She has fought back to become the number one ranked bowler in the world and will be the women’s cricket team’s spearhead as it kicks off its T20 World Cup campaign against Australia on Friday. They will start as underdogs but given even a fraction of the resources available to the men, there is no doubt they could be as dominant internationally too.

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