The Men in Green lost to Afghanistan by three wickets in their first warm-up game where their shortcomings were exposed. Bangladesh, meanwhile, come into the clash on the back of a morale-boosting win over West Indies in the ODI tri-series held in Ireland.
Ahead of their final warm-up clash, we look at three issues Pakistan still need to sort out before the start of the World Cup.
BATTING CONUNDRUMS CONTINUE
That Pakistan failed to bat out 50 overs on a cracker of a surface against Afghanistan speaks volumes about their inability to figure out the perfect batting formula for ODIs. Had it been an official match, it would have been the 11th ODI loss in a row for Sarfraz Ahmed and his men.
Only centurion Babar Azam managed to look the part with the bat against Afghanistan while Asif Ali’s ability to accelerate lower down the order was desperately missed. Despite scoring over 350 on two occasions in their recent series against Pakistan, question marks have remained on the team’s ability to force the rate of scoring in ODI cricket.
Despite talented batsmen like Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq and Babar, Pakistan’s batting has failed to really click together as a unit with the consistency in the middle-order sorely lacking.
AMIR’S WOES SHOWS NO SIGNS OF ENDING
While they will have been encouraged with the returning Wahab Riaz’s three-wicket haul in the Afghanistan loss, Pakistan’s team management will be sweating over the form of Mohammad Amir.
The left-arm pacer continues to look a shadow of his former self and his showing in the Afghanistan clash did little to alleviate fears about his effectiveness ahead of the World Cup.
Amir was economical alright with 27 runs conceded from his six overs but his wicket-less showing means he has now just picked up 5 scalps in his last 15 one-day outings for Pakistan.
Should Amir fail to perform in the final warm-up clash, it will add further pressure on the senior pacer who was not included in the 15-man preliminary squad.
VULNERABILITY AGAINST SPIN
In their innings against Afghanistan, Pakistan’s batsmen were found wanting against spin with as many as five wickets falling to the slower bowlers.
Both Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail had their stumps shattered by Afghan off-spinner Mohammad Nabi while skipper Sarfraz and veteran Mohammad Hafeez fell to Rashid Khan’s guile.
While the wickets at the World Cup are expected to be batting beauties, spin could become key as the tournament wears on and as such, vulnerability against it does not bode well.
It is not usual to see Pakistan’s batsmen struggling against spin and it is something they will want to remedy against a Bangladesh side brimming with slower bowlers.
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