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Pakistan became top T20I team by beating ‘not so great’ opponents: Bhogle

NEW DELI: Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle believes Pakistan’s 27-month reign at the top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) T20I rankings, was largely due to playing against lesser quality opposition. However, Bhogle also added that Pakistan’s faith in talented youngsters paved the way for their success and their achievement of winning 11 consecutive series cannot be discounted. The Men in Green had achieved the number one spot after beating New Zealand 2-1 in their backyard in January 2018. “Pakistan spent a lot of time being the world number one in Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is). They were helped by the fact that they played against some not so great opposition, but you can’t hold that against them. They won 11 series in a row,” said Bhogle on ICC’s digital show Cricket Inside Out. “They had some really good players coming through. There was Fakhar Zaman at the top of the order and their core was in that middle-order, where they got eight overs some days between Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim and both of them could bat too. Plus, Shadab is a brilliant fielder, so there was a nice little side coming together,” he added.

After the annual update in ICC T20I rankings in May this year, which eliminated results from 2016-17, Pakistan slipped to number four spot with 260 rating points. Indian commentator feels the Men in Green has recently struggled to keep up with the opposition in high-scoring encounters, as their key players have lost their form. “But look what’s happened since then. That 170 kind of T20 game has started to trouble them. They are not chasing 170 runs and are not able to defend 170. They have lost some series in recent times. Fakhar Zaman is out of form. Shadab is batting more in PSL than he is bowling. His economy rate has gone through the roof for a leggie. Imad Wasim is not quite the bowler he was. Fast-bowlers are coming and going and there is too much turmoil in that side,” he said. The 59-year-old also said that Pakistan selectors can’t keep relying on old horses and emphasised the need to induct youngsters into the side. “What they need is a dominant figure in that top-order. They want Babar Azam to be that player, but once Babar Azam is gone, they are still playing Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik and relying on them to come good. I think they need younger players, who can start playing 170-180 run games. They need players like Abid Ali and Asif Ali to come and get them big runs,” he concluded.

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