Where do Pakistan’s problems lie ahead of the T20 World Cup?

Pakistan seem to have a few issues in all aspects of the game. Collapses, leaking runs and poor fielding are all adding to the problem tally

Where do Pakistan’s problems lie ahead of the T20 World Cup? PHOTO: PCB

Pakistan are busy preparing themselves for the T20 World Cup, which is around the corner. With their performances in the Asia Cup being below-par and being all squared-up against England at home, Pakistan seem to have a few issues in all aspects of the game. Collapses, leaking runs and poor fielding are all adding to the problem tally.


Since the start of the 2021 T20 World Cup, the prolific opening pair, Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan, have put on the majority of the runs for Pakistan. Building the foundation and doing majority of the work at the top means that the middle-order has hardly had to chip in. However, the Asia Cup disclosed that splitting up the pair early on does give way to a vulnerable batting line-up. 

Even though Rizwan was the leading run scorer for Pakistan in the Asia Cup, he has been criticised for the way he goes about things and it not being ideal for Pakistan. For instance, in the Asia Cup final, Pakistan were chasing 170 and Rizwan had a strike rate of just 72.72 in the power play. Scoring 55 off 49 balls before getting out, Rizwan just left too much for the rest of the team to do.

Babar Azam, who did not have a great Asia Cup, came back strongly in the second T20 against England, scoring a whopping 110 in just 66 deliveries, whilst chasing down 200. However, before this match, Babar only had one half century to his name in 2022, that too, in a losing cause, where Australia where able to chase down a substandard score of 162. In the first T20 against England, Babar showed a glimpse of getting back into form, scoring 31 off 24 deliveries, before getting out. Yet again, the team went on to score a below-par score of 158. 

In both of these instances, one player out the pair was dismissed earlier on in the innings, and whilst the other went on to score big, but the team total was just not competitive enough. This reiterates the fact that breaking up the dynamic duo early on in the game, is advantageous for opponents in both chasing and setting a total. 

Moving onto the middle order, the main issue lays against spin. In the Asia Cup, the likes of Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Ravi Bishnoi and Dhananjaya de Silver kept the Pakistani batsmen quiet. Against Afghanistan, Rashid Khan took 2 wickets, striking early to get rid of Rizwan, then taking the important wicket of Shadab Khan. In the final, against Sri Lanka, Wanindu Hasaranga took three wickets, two of which came in the 17th over, to dismiss Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah. 


Pakistan is known for their pace bowlers but right now, Pakistani fans are praying that Shaheen Shah Afridi will be fit to play the T20 World Cup. In his T20 career, Shaheen has taken 24 wickets in the opening over. Bowling full and quick, and moving the ball in all directions, is enough to make even the best batsmen uncomfortable. After being ruled out of the Asia Cup, Naseem Shah was able to partially fill the hole that Shaheen had left, having a dream debut against arch rivals, India, and an amazing Asia Cup, overall. However, in the first T20 against England, Naseem was very expensive, going for over 40 runs in his four overs. 

If all goes well for Pakistan, their pace attack in the world cup will be Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf. Haris Rauf has shown much improvement in his performance since he has come onto the international scene. He played a pivotal role against India and New Zealand in last year’s T20 World Cup, and continues to show why he is one of the best death bowlers that Pakistan has at the moment. During the fourth T20 against England, when all hope seemed to be lost, Rauf took two in two balls, getting the all-important wicket of Liam Dawson, who looked to be taking the game away from Pakistan, before dismissing Olly Stone off the very next ball. The penultimate over by Rauf put Pakistan in the driving seat once again, as the visitors went into the last over with just a wicket in hand. 

If Shaheen is to miss out on the T20 World Cup, Pakistan will have to rely on Mohammad Hasnain and Shahnawaz Dahani. Hasnain played a handful of matches in the Asia Cup and on the whole he did well. During the final, however, he finished with an economy rate of 10.25, the most expensive of the lot. He was also very expensive in the second T20 against England, finishing with an economy rate of 12.75. His bowling spell during the earlier stages of the fourth T20 were exceptional, going for 16 runs in his three overs, however, his last over went for 24 runs, ruining his figures, as he finished with 40 off his 4 overs. Likewise, Dahani only played a couple of matches in the Asia Cup and against England, he has been very expensive in the first three T20s, finishing with an economy rate of 11.40, 9.25 and 15.50 respectively. From performances like these, it is clear that the absence of Shaheen Shah Afridi is felt in Pakistan’s pace attack. 

From all the points written above, it seems as is Pakistan are going into the World Cup on ifs and buts. If Babar and Rizwan get going, they can chase down any total. If Shaheen is fit enough, Pakistan’s pace attack is lethal. This is not entirely true.

A great inclusion into the batting line up would be Shan Masood. During the third T20 against England, he put up a fighting half century, when he came in at 21 for 3 and stayed unbeaten on 65 off 40, striking at 162.50. In 2022 alone, he has scored 1341 runs, averaging 39 and striking at 136.55 and in the Vitality Blast, he scored 547 runs in 14 innings. Being in this kind of form, and having already showed that he can support and be the anchor in the middle order, he seems to be a good pick for the upcoming World Cup. 

In terms of bowling, Pakistan still do have the likes of Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah, both of which have previously wreaked havoc. Paired with Shadab Khan and Mohammed Nawaz, who caused problems for the opposition in the Asia Cup, the bowling aspect is the least of Pakistan’s worries. The two all-rounders have shown that they can perform with the bat as well as the ball. Shadab Khan was exceptional in this year’s edition of the Pakistan Super League, scoring 268 runs at a rate of 162.42. Nawaz played an impactful knock against India in the Asia Cup super-four game, scoring 42 off just 20 deliveries.

The middle order definitely needs improving in the lead up to the World Cup and Shan Masood over Fakhar Zaman may strengthen the line-up. Adding Shadab and Nawaz into the mix, alongside the fire power of Khushdil Shah, Iftikhar Ahmed and Asif Ali, who smacked two out of the park at the end of the innings, pushing Pakistan’s total up to 166 in the fourth T20 against England, could be the answer to the questions that have been lingering about the middle order for some time.