Pakistan were handed a crushing seven-wicket loss in the second T20I against Australia but the visitors had something to cheer about in the clash at Canberra.
All-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed showed his worth for the Men in Green with the 29-year-old striking a superb maiden T20I half-century. The right-hander’s unbeaten knock of 62 was a much-needed one for Pakistan, although it ended up being in a losing cause.
Here, we take a closer look at his batting display which helped the Men in Green post a respectable total of 150-6 against the Aussies.
When Iftikhar walked in to bat, Pakistan were reeling at 70-4 with their run-rate hovering around six runs an over. The all-rounder immediately provided some impetus to the Pakistan innings with the boundaries off his bat coming as a welcome relief for the visitors.
Once skipper Babar Azam was run-out for 50, Iftikhar assumed complete control of the Pakistan innings as he raced away to a 29-ball half-century. The right-hander struck boundaries at will in his unbeaten knock, which was ultimately responsible for helping Pakistan breach the crucial 150-run barrier.
Despite Babar Azam looking in cracking form once again, Pakistan were still in danger of ending up with a paltry total of approximately 120 before Iftikhar arrived at the crease.
The Peshawar-born man threw caution to the wind immediately upon his arrival, and started his onslaught by targeting Australia’s weakest link – Kane Richardson. Seven of his eight boundaries came off the middle of the bat while only one of them was a streaky outside edge.
Iftikhar barely put a foot wrong in his entire innings with his rapid knock coming at a time when Pakistan most desperately needed it. A strike-rate of over 180 is as good as it gets in T20 cricket and the all-rounder can be forgiven for the odd miscued shot which still ran away for a boundary.
VERDICT – 9/10
Iftikhar Ahmed in ODIs/T20Is this year— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) November 5, 2019
32 not out
28 not out
25 run out
17 not out
01 not out
62 not out
Average 165.00 and Strike Rate 151.37. Yet to be dismissed by a bowler. Pakistan shouldn't be using him at 6 or 7. He is a much better batsman than that. #AusvPak
Pakistan have been sorely lacking a big-hitter down the order who can take the game to the opposition in the death overs. Asif Ali was supposed to be that batsman but the Islamabad United all-rounder has continuously flattered to deceive.
Iftikhar had already shown glimpses of his explosive batting ability in previous Pakistan appearances, but he truly came into his own at Canberra with his maiden T20 half-century. That he can also bowl some hand off-spin is an added bonus for a T20 outfit which has been misfiring for an entire year.
Misbah-ul-Haq has made some bewildering selection calls since taking over his dual role with the Pakistan, however, the head coach needs to be lauded for handing Iftikhar an international recall after more than three years out of the team.
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