Ramiz Raja slams team management over opening pair shuffle in NZ series

Raja questioned splitting a successful opening pair, emphasizing the need for continuity and consistent effort to build a strong partnership

Ramiz Raja slams team management over opening pair shuffle in NZ series PHOTO: AFP

Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, Ramiz Raja, has voiced his strong criticism against the team management's decision to disrupt the successful opening pair of Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam during the ongoing T20 International series against New Zealand.

New Zealand sealed their T20 series against Pakistan with two games to spare Wednesday on the back of a record 137 off 62 balls by opener Finn Allen at University Oval in Dunedin.

The Black Caps, sent in to bat in game three of the five-match series, won by 45 runs after posting a colossal 224 for seven and restricting Pakistan to 179 for seven.

While speaking on his YouTube channel, Raja questioned the rationale behind breaking a renowned opening pair, stressing the importance of continuity and consistent work to form a strong partnership.

"So much pressure was created to break the opening pair of Babar and Rizwan. After breaking the opening partnership, which was evaluated based on the strike rate. When you bring in new players, they may perform well in leagues, but international cricket is a different beast where there is pressure, and the focus of the entire world is on you. You broke the opening pair that was famous worldwide. Either you have workshop of trained openers behind you who are gradually being introduced, when you have no other options. It takes time to form an opening pair. It's not an easy task. So, if you have a pair, and they consistently kept you in the field during matches, what benefit did you get after breaking it?" Raja said.

Responding to accusations of bias towards Babar, the former cricketer defended his support for any captain, underscoring the multifaceted responsibilities of leadership both on and off the field.

"The accusation made against me was that I backed Babar Azam. I support every captain because their role is to lead not just on the field during the game, but also extends to off the field as well," he concluded.