Pakistan Complete An Emphatic Series Win Over Scotland
Pakistan ended their tour of Ireland, England and Scotland on a very positive note, beating Scotland 2-0 in the two match T20I series. This completes a very mixed tour for the young Pakistan side. Overall they won two Test matches on their travels, one against Ireland and one against England, but they suffered a very heavy defeat in Headingley. However, they then crushed Scotland, a side that recently shocked the cricket world with a win over England.
There was certainly a lot of pressure on Pakistan heading into the T20I series. They are ranked as the number one T20I side in the world and were up against a side that is not going to feature in the 2019 World Cup. Nevertheless, Pakistan’s experience ensured that they did not fail like England, but rather they completed two solid victories.
A huge bonus for Pakistan will be the fact that their middle order fired in both games. Sarfraz Ahmed had come under some heavy criticism for his lack of significant contributions with the bat, but he silenced his critics emphatically. He proved that he is not only a good keeper and captain, but also a perpetually threatening batsman.
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Shoaib Malik And Sarfraz Ahmed Dominate
Pakistan would have been very pleased with their batting performance in the first T20I. They posted an impressive 204/4 off their allotted overs. Admittedly, they will be disappointed with their top order. Openers Ahmed Shehzad and Fakhar Zaman did not manage to take advantage of the bowling, while number three Hussain Talat could not build on his start. In response to this, Sarfraz Ahmed promoted himself up the batting line-up to number four. This proved to be a masterstroke as he went on to hit a sublime 89* off 49 balls.
What made this innings special was how well it was paced. Ahmed was on just 35 off 29 balls at the end of the 14th over but ended up taking 54 runs off his next 20 deliveries. This included a huge final over, where he hit Safyaan Sharif for three fours and a six in the last over.
Ahmed received a lot of support from Shoaib Malik at the other end. Malik hit a 27 ball 53 and cleared the rope on five occasions. Interestingly, despite his constant flow of maximums, Malik did not hit a single four in the innings.
Malik again performed in the second T20I but he did not receive much support as Pakistan only managed 166/6. The openers performed much better and shared in a 60 run opening stand, with Fakhar scoring 33 and Shehzad 24. However, Shehzad scored at a very slow rate of just 109 and Pakistan got off to a rather slow start. They lost even more momentum with a 17 (19) from Talat and were struggling at 83-3 in the 12th over.
Malik, though, injected some life into the limp Pakistan innings as he smashed 49* off just 22 balls. He stole the momentum away from Scotland and ensured that Pakistan reached a defendable total. Aside from opener Zaman, Malik was the only batsman to score at a strike rate of above 110 in the Pakistan innings. This rather pointedly shows the power of experience.
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Solid Bowling Performances
The visitors picked up 16 wickets across the two T20Is, which they will certainly be pleased with. Mohammad Nawaz was fantastic in the first T20I, opening the bowling, and ended with figures of 4-0-22-1. In contrast, Mohammad Amir was rather less successful. The highly acclaimed left-arm seamer leaked runs and ended up with an economy rate of over 11. Indeed, his figures of 4-0-45-1 are somewhat embarrassing for a player of his calibre and talent. Hassan Ali was effective as ever, picking up two wickets, with Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf bowling economical spells as well.
It was no surprise to see Amir given a rest for the second T20I, with Usman Khan coming in. Khan made an immediate impact as he took a wicket off just his third delivery and then knocked over Kyle Coetzer’s stumps in his next over. He only ended up bowling two overs, but ended with figures of 2-4 which earned him the title of man of the match. Faheem Ashraf was equally impressive with his fast-medium bowling. He bowled a few overs in the Test matches and looked good and carried on his form into the T20Is. His figures of 2.4-0-5-3 pay testament to his consistency.
What Next For Pakistan?
Pakistan will now head to Zimbabwe, where they are playing a T20I tri-series with the host nation and Australia. They will be coming up against a very strong Australia side, but one hampered by the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner. After that tournament, they are scheduled to play five ODIs against Zimbabwe.
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