The T20 World Cup and subsequent IPL woke a lot of people out of their slumber. ICC realized that big money is with T20 cricket. Slowly, teams started adapting to T20 cricket. Before that, T20 cricket was taken as a bit of an exhibition. Australians and New Zealanders played T20s as a sort of an exhibition match. The 1st IPL was termed a paid holiday, where you tried if you wanted to.
But there was one team which took to T20 cricket, like fish to water, Pakistan. We had cricketers who were made to be T20 experts. You know who I am talking about. From 2007 to around 2010, Pakistan were one of the best (if not the best) T20 side. However, things began to slide after that. The period between 2012 and 2016, Pakistan weren’t competitive. Captaincy changed hands frequently. The world had moved on from natural talent and now they were focusing on the minor details that can give an edge in a shortened encounter. The absolute nailing down of that fact, came in the 2016 World Cup. A defeated Shahid Afridi, sat on the sidelines, what looked like a timid end to his international career (that was his last match for Pakistan).
Congratulations Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed on becoming the youngest Pakistani cricketer to receive the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the third highest civil award of Pakistan. pic.twitter.com/QnkyQWXDGt
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) March 24, 2018
Changes were made, as Sarfaraz came in as T20 captain. Since then, Pakistan has won 15 games out of 18. That includes away series win against New Zealand, an away win in England, one away and 2 home series wins against West Indies, and one home win against Sri Lanka. Some of the opposition may not be of the top quality but they can only beat who they play. The win against England and especially the 2 games against New Zealand were top quality performances.
Slowly, Pakistan have started to plug holes in the side. It’s a team which bats deep w/o compromising the balling options. Fakhar Zaman has shown relative consistency, while Babar Azam is a quality player in white ball cricket. Hussain Talat has showcased class in these two games. Sarfaraz is finally batting at 4, with Malik following him. While, Faheem Asharaf hasn’t set the world alight with the bat, he, Shadab, Asif Ali and even Hasan Ali provide muscle to the lower order. Bowling has never been a big problem anyway.
However, we don’t have another T20 World Cup for two years. In Pakistan cricket, 2 years is a very (very very) long time. It’s a shame we wont see this team face off against top quality competition. One would hope the management ensures that this team grows together and is in prime shape when the 2020 World Cup starts.