The Tri-Series Triumph – A major boost ahead of the T20 World Cup

Throughout the mini-tournament, there was an all-round performance from the team

The Tri-Series Triumph – A major boost ahead of the T20 World Cup PHOTO: PCB

Flying out to New Zealand having lost a series to England at home, Pakistan had to do something spectacular to get their morale up before the T20 World Cup. And they did just that in the tri-series against New Zealand and Bangladesh. Having lost only one match out of the whole series, the sun began to shine on them once again.

Throughout the mini-tournament, there was an all-round performance from the team. From excellent bowling spells by Haris Rauf, to Shadab Khan’s great cameos, Pakistan had their eyes on the prize from the get-go.

First Round

Pakistan started their tri-series campaign off on a high, beating Bangladesh by 21 runs. As usual, the opening pair started off great, putting up a 52 run partnership, with Mohammed Rizwan anchoring the innings and staying unbeaten on 78 off 50. In the second innings, it was neck and neck at the 12th over mark, but Bangladesh seemed to have lost their way, losing four wickets in 14 balls, allowing Pakistan to easily get over the line.

The boys were next scheduled to play the hosts, and whilst they had issues on their own turf just a week ago, they were able to trouble New Zealand and obtain a comfortable six-wicket win. As they have done throughout history, the bowlers won the game for Pakistan. Haris Rauf was the stellar of the show, adding three wickets to his name, whilst the spinners kept things tight in the middle. Babar Azam replied with an unbeaten 79 off 53 and a promotion up the order for Shadab Khan, helping Pakistan seal the deal with 10 balls to spare.

Second round

Pakistan were set to play New Zealand again, and the openers came out with intent. By the end of the third over, Pakistan had scored 24 runs but the New Zealand spinners did well to keep Pakistan quiet in the middle. Finishing on 130, New Zealand only lost one wicket in their chase, cruising to victory in the beginning of the 17th over.

Having already sealed a place in the final, Pakistan were set to Bangladesh beforehand. The Pakistani spinners were expensive, whilst the pacers did enough to make Bangladesh stumble slightly. With Naseem Shah and Mohammed Wasim taking 2 a piece, the latter conceding only three runs in the last over. Needing to chase down 174, the prolific opening pair put up a century partnership to get the ball rolling. The Bangladeshi bowlers did well to stop Pakistan in their tracks, however, it was the 45-off-20-ball cameo by Mohammed Nawaz that helped Pakistan add another win to their name. 


Playing New Zealand for the third time in a week, Pakistan looked to finish the tournament with a bang. Haris Rauf was brilliant with the ball yet again, taking 2 for 22, with his last 2 overs going for just 7 runs. Chasing 164, Pakistan seemed to be in spot of bother after the 12th over, when they were 74 for 3. However, Nawaz and Haider Ali smashed 33 in 8 balls, shifting the momentum in favour of Pakistan. Iftikhar Ahmed then came in and jumped on the bandwagon alongside Nawaz, resulting in Pakistan coming out on top in the tri-series.

Takeaways ahead of the World Cup

The main takeaway from this tri-series is that the middle and lower order batsmen have begun adjusting to their jobs. The batsmen lower down the order have recognised the steadfast, yet on-the-slow-side approach up top, and look to come out scoring at a higher rate. Although Babar and Rizwan finished in the top-three run scorers of the series, they were not necessarily the batsmen that played the part to clinch this series.

The first game against Bangladesh, the opening pair managed to put up a half-century stand, before Babar got dismissed, and although Rizwan went unbeaten in this game, it was Shan Masood’s 31 in 22 balls that helped Pakistan set a target of 167, after struggling at 111 at the end of the 15th over. Similarly, in the next match against the host, Pakistan were 2 down inside the powerplay, when Shadab walked out, scoring 34 in 22 deliveries. Haider Ali joined the party and smacked two boundaries to chase down 148 in style.

Can Shadab Khan at number four solve Pakistan’s middle-order crisis?

Although he has hardly been given a chance to prove his all-rounder status, in the past year alone he has shown that he can hold a bat quite well. In the last 12 innings, Shadab has an average of 26.71, striking at 157.14. 

He has previously shown his fire-power in the PSL. In 2020, Islamabad United were chasing 183 and had lost two wickets very early on. Coming out to bat at number 4, above Colin Ingram and Asif Ali, Shadab’s cameo of 52 off 29 helped Islamabad get over the line by 1 wicket. In the rest of the tournament, he scored 180 runs in four innings at that position, with three out of those four innings ending with a strike rate of over 155. The 2022 PSL edition was when Shadab shone even brighter. He scored 268 runs in the whole tournament, and batted at four a total of six times, averaging 39 and striking at 172.1.

His promotion up the order against the Kiwis was an encouraging one. With the middle order continuously struggling, it is an indication that the team understand where their problems lie, and actively doing something to find a solution. Not only can Shadab be the solution to middle-order crisis, he is able to play spin well. While the openers look to rotate the strike when the spinners come on, both having a strike rate of around the 120 mark, Shadab is able to find the boundary and strike at over 150. 

Having Shadab come out at number four and adding firepower to the foundation set up top can lower the pressure on the finishers, diminishing the unrealistic obligation for them to start smacking boundaries from ball one. 

Shadab Khan wasn’t the only one who impressed with the bat. In the final, it was Nawaz and Iftikhar who were scoring at higher rates which gave Pakistan the edge, winning them the title. Nawaz scored 38 not-out off 22, the night after he smashed an unbeaten 45 in 20 balls against Bangladesh, soaking up the pressure and seeing Pakistan over the line in both situations. He also played a great knock against India in the Asia Cup earlier this year, showcasing his potential to be a great middle-order batsman.

Having been fairly successful in recent times, playing 2 finals in the space of a month or so, Pakistan have managed to put the loss against England behind them. This series has shown that Pakistan are able to re-arrange their middle-order line up according to the match situation. With Pakistan having enough great batting options, and the added bonus of shuffling their line-up, it is vital that they use each batsmen in a way that will be most beneficial to the team at the given time. Whilst Babar and Rizwan will be their usual selves and score big it is the short but fiery innings from the middle order that will prove crucial in setting and chasing totals. Paired with their ever successful bowlers, Pakistan certainly look like a strong candidate to lift the trophy.