Both batsmen struggled to accelerate during the chase in third T20I against Sri Lanka
Pakistan head coach-cum-chief selector Misbahul Haq has come out in support of Babar Azam and Haris Sohail over claims that both top-order batsmen played for themselves rather than the team’s cause during the third Twenty20 International (T20I) against Sri Lanka in Lahore on Wednesday.
Azam struggled throughout his 32-ball innings, during which he scored 27 runs at a meagre strike rate of 84. At a time when Pakistan needed to accelerate during the chase, Sohail innings of 52 runs from 50 balls at a strike of 104 also raised questions.
Pakistan failed to chase the target of 148 runs and went onto lose the game by 13 runs and the T20I series three-nil.
However, while speaking during a press conference after the conclusion of the third T20I, Misbah believed that both batsmen failed to adapt to the conditions.
“I think saying that they [Babar Azam and Haris Sohail] were playing for themselves is wrong,” said Misbah. “I think they couldn't adapt to the slowness of the pitch. They were trying to hit but they couldn't connect so there were dot balls and frustration built up. That happened with Babar in all the matches as he couldn't time the ball.”
“They are our top players and their place in the team is secure, so they don’t need to play for their spots,” he added.
Misbah also rued the absence of veteran all-rounders Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik on spin-friendly pitches.
“We missed Hafeez and Malik as they are two batsmen who play spin the best and that was a problem for us in this whole series,” he said. “Our young batsmen play fast-bowlers better but since they don't play leg spin that often, they struggle to pick them and that's a big reason for us not getting to the targets in the last two games.”
The former captain applauded the Islanders for their performance and admitted that the Men in Green need improvement in all departments ahead of the tour of Australia.
"Sri Lanka’s performances is an example for us. They outclassed us in all three departments,” he said. "If all the responsibility is put on me, that's fine but this is mostly the same team that has been playing for 4 years. How much coaching will I have done in 10 days?"
"We will try to work on our shortcomings. Where we feel we need players, we'll try to bring them in and play them. We need to answer a lot of questions ahead of the Australia series,” he added.