Shahid Khan Afridi, sits in the dressing room covering his face in disappointment. Then he rubs his forehand. Some accuse him of playing to the gallery. Some see genuine remorse. That was the last time, Lala played for Pakistan. Sarfaraz took over as captain. The change in fortunes were drastic. Pakistan haven’t lost a series in 2 years and are the top T20 side. While admittedly, the opposition hasn’t always been top drawer, but they can only beat who they play. The win in New Zealand stands out obviously.
One of the vital cogs in this well-oiled machine has been Shoaib Malik. In that T20 World Cup, Malik was Pakistan’s highest scorer. But he only faced 58 balls scoring. He scored at a strike rate of over 160, but it wasn’t good enough. With Umer Akmal, batting up the order, after that complain to Imran Khan, and Shahid Afridi also going higher because simply he could, Malik, Sarfaraz and co were left to pick up the pieces. Both of them require a few deliveries to get in before they can strike big.
Sarfaraz, has given Malik that luxury. In T20s, as MS Dhoni often says, it’s not about batting a certain number but about game situation and number of overs left. Shoaib Malik’s T20 career average is 30, with a strike rate of 120. While under Sarfaraz the average jumps to 57 and strike rate goes to 154. Granted that the opposition hasn’t always been the top T20 sides (Malik missed New Zealand T20s due to injury), the change is too significant to ignore. Overall, he has hit 30 sixes in 75 innings. Under Sarfaraz, he has hit 21 in 15 innings. Do that math!
While, Faheem Asharaf and Shadab Khan are supposedly the designated lower order hitters, Shoaib Malik has been performing this role adequately. Knowing when to attack and when to accumulate, Malik has played a pivotal role in the success of Pakistan’s T20 team. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if he can continue his form against tougher opposition. Only if we had a T20 World Cup around the corner.