Pakistan’s explosive opener, Fakhar Zaman has been some sort of a revolution for the sub continent giants. Like fellow countryman Hasan Ali, whos’ now the world’s no. 1 ODI bowler, Fakhar took the ODI scene by storm during the ICC Champions Trophy held in England earlier this year. A tournament that was won by Pakistan, Fakhar was brilliant throughout, especially in the final where he smashed a sensational 114 against their arch enemies India.
But there has been a case of concern for him regarding his present form. He, just like his predecessors Ahmed Shehzad & Sharjeel Khan, has failed to show consistency. He started off well during the 5-match ODI series against Sri lanka with a crunch innings of 43. But his following four innings were all full of potential with scores in excess of 20. But he’s failed to capitalize on the starts he’s got and that has the management sweating over his form and possibly, his selection.
Talking about his opening batsman’s form, coach Mickey Arthur said, “I would be lying if I say it is not a little worrying. Fakar is a really good player. What we need is for him to learn and we will continue talking to him. He played in England on really good wickets. The other wickets have been a lot slower and haven’t allowed him to play strokes as much as he could have done. The key for Fakar now is learning to take strike a little bit more. So he’s got to be able to get singles and get to the other end. That is going to be the key in his development as a batsman but he is still our X-factor player and hopefully he does well tomorrow”.
Mickey, as he’s known throughout, didn’t miss to applaud Fakhar’s teammates Babar Azam & Hasan Ali, who’s been nothing short of brilliant. Babar has scored 303 runs in the first 4 ODIs while Hasan Ali has taken 12 wickets in the same amount of matches. In this series, he became the fastest Pakistani bowler (24) to take 50 ODI wickets, eclipsing the likes of Legendary Waqar Younis & spin wizard Saqlain Mushtaq. The coach said, “When we are winning, we are winning well, and now we have a young guy who a year ago wasn’t in our team is suddenly the No.1 bowler in the world and also Babar Azam has moved to No.4 in the world. That is a great compliment to those players and that also shows we started to gel as a really good as a one-day unit. Those guys have been outstanding,” said Arthur.
While expressing his excitement regarding the younger players’ proving their worth in gold, Arthur was seemingly disappointed with the alleged questioning of Mohammad Hafeez’s bowling action. Haffez has dethroned Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan to become the no. 1 all-rounder in ODIs for the 9th time in his career. Arthur said, “That is disappointing because he is such an integral part of this one-day side going forward in terms of what he brings with the ball particularly in these conditions. We spent the last couple of days going back on a few videos and the stuff when he came back and we are confident that he is fine. I am pretty sure he is going get through that problem”.
The coach also highlighted his disappointment with the bad luck his side’s been having regarding injuries. With star pacer Mohammad Amir already ruled out for the series, pacer Faheem Ashraf and batsman Haris Sohail has also been sidelined. But the most worrying feature for Mickey was the groin injury of Babar in the last ODI. He said, “It’s been a pity that we have picked up a couple of injuries,” rued Arthur. “I thought Faheem bowled great lengths. I would have loved to see him, but he did a calf muscle. Rumman Raees is out of the Twenty20; Haris didn’t pass a fitness test, but is pretty close to playing. Babar has pulled a groin. We need to take all that consideration.”
Arthur concluded by stating his hopes of a white wash. He said, “I will be disappointed if we didn’t (win 5-0) because the guys are hungry and the guys want to definitely do that. The key for us is to maintain our hunger and ruthlessness.”