Aiden Markram is one of the future stars of South African cricket. The top order batsman had long been earmarked as not only a fine batsman but also a future captain.
And at the age of just 23, he was made the second youngest ODI captain for South Africa during the series against India earlier in the year. The Proteas lost that series 4-1 but Markram’s rise to the top was confirmed.
His form in Test cricket has been especially pleasing. His 94 in Centurion against India was superb and he raised the tempo in the ill-tempered series against Australia, churning out scores of 143, 84 and 152 as the Proteas won the series 2-1 and 3-1 respectively.
Which is why Markram’s sudden loss in form in red-ball cricket is a cause for concern. In his last six innings in red-ball cricket, Markram has been dismissed for a duck on four occasions. That includes three ducks batting for Durham in the county championship and a duck in the two-day warm-up match against Sri Lanka Board XI on Sunday.
Markram is a very important cog of the South African wheel and his form will be crucial in the Sri Lanka series that begins with two Tests. He represent the best of the next generation of South African cricketers and his alarming dip in form will be a cause of concern.
After another successful T20 sojourn for the men in green, we rate the players’ performance in the tri-series.
FAKHAR ZAMAN – 9/10
Simply outstanding. The left-handed opener struck three half-centuries in the series including a career-best 91 against Australia in the final. It is no surprise then that he has risen 44 spots to the No2 ranking for batsmen in format after his latest exploits.
MOHAMMAD HAFEEZ – 4/10
The veteran all-rounder returned to the international side after being cleared to bowl again by the ICC but he simply forgot to turn up with the bat. Although he picked up two wickets in the first match against Zimbabwe, he scored a paltry seven runs in total in the two innings he played.
SAHIBZADA FARHAN – 3/10
A harsh introduction to international cricket for the young opener who was dismissed for a diamond duck without facing a legitimate delivery on his debut in the final.
HARIS SOHAIL – 4/10
Following Hafeez’s consecutive failure, Pakistan gave Haris Sohail a shot at opening the innings but he too failed to deliver with scores of 16 and 0. Was promptly dropped for the final after those two displays.
HUSSAIN TALAT – 6/10
A mixed-bag of a series for the Pakistan top-order batsman. Bar one game against Zimbabwe where he scored 44 and picked up a wicket, Talat was off-colour for the most part of the tri-series.
SARFRAZ AHMED – 7/10
It wasn’t the best of tournaments with the bat for the Pakistan skipper but he did show his class with an important knock of 28 under pressure in the final. His unbeaten 38 against Zimbabwe in a tight affair was equally crucial.
SHOAIB MALIK – 8/10
The veteran batsman has developed into a terrific finisher for the side over the last year or so and he showed his prowess once again with an unbeaten 43 to take Pakistan over the finish line in the final. Can always be counted on during pressure situations, especially at the death.
ASIF ALI – 8/10
Like Malik, Asif Ali was equally dependable for Pakistan in the middle-order. He played some important knocks throughout the competition including an unbeaten 41 in the tournament opener against Zimbabwe.
SHADAB KHAN – 7/10
The young Pakistan leg-spinner continued to grow as a potential all-rounder while his leg-spin fetched him five wickets in as many matches. He claimed a spectacular catch in the final to go with his contributions with both bat and ball.
FAHEEM ASHRAF – 6/10
An average series for the all-rounder who only got a couple of opportunities with the bat in the entire series. He did pick up three wickets with the ball but was largely unspectacular.
MOHAMMAD NAWAZ – 6/10
The 24-year-old spinner started off with two wickets in the first match against Zimbabwe but two wicketless outings saw him dropped to the bench for the rest of the tournament.
USMAN KHAN – 7/10
Like Nawaz, Usman Khan started the tri-series with two wickets against Zimbabwe in the opener. Unluckily for him, Shaheen Afridi’s strong showing against Australia saw him miss out for the final.
HASAN ALI – 7/10
The Pakistan pacer was impressive at the start of the tri-series with three wickets in his first two outings but two expensive spells in the matches to follow meant that he too missed the final.
SHAHEEN AFRIDI – 8/10
It was an impressive tournament for the teenage prodigy who played just his second T20 match for Pakistan in the final round-robin clash against the Aussies. Picked up three wickets in that match to force himself into the squad for the final where he claimed another wicket.
MOHAMMAD AMIR – 8/10
The Pakistan pace spearhead was rested in his side’s opening two clashes in the tournament but then went on a run of three consecutive games. He claimed five wickets in total including a three-wicket haul in the final.
Rahane last played white-ball cricket for India in the ODI series against South Africa this March. He hit 79-run knock in the first ODI before following it up with scores of 11, 8, 8 and 34 in his subsequent innings. His last T20I appearance came all the way back in 2016 against the West Indies.
Despite being ignored for selection for some time now, the Mumbai batsman believes he can make a comeback in white-ball cricket.
“I don’t think that this (being left out of the ODI and T20I squads) is affecting me. The important thing is to believe in your abilities. I am aware of my capabilities and how good I am. It is all about believing in yourselves, rather than thinking about things that are not in your control,” Rahane said in an interview with Cricketnext.
“It is part and parcel of a professional cricketer’s life. I know I can make a comeback and I have really done well in the shorter formats in the past. I think, right now, the important thing is to practice hard and go out there and enjoy myself. For me, it is important to serve my country, be it any format. It is important to contribute to my team’s cause and do well for my country,” he added.
The batsman is currently training in Mumbai in preparation of the Test series against England where he will play a crucial role in India’s middle-order.
“The conditions there help the ball move a bit – depending upon the weather. If it is cloudy, the ball moves a bit and if it’s sunny then the wickets are pretty good to bat on. I want to cover each and every aspect of batting, so that I am able to tackle any type of condition which we will be facing in England and do well there,” Rahane said about his ongoing preparation for the tour.