Umar Akmal celebrating after a scintillating knock ©AFP
Umar Akmal celebrating after a scintillating knock ©AFP

As it goes with the aphorism, a country’s opulence decidedly depends on its younger generations. Conventionally, Pakistan have been widely reckoned for the expertise with the ball but their batting department too once possessed the necessary armaments to take down the big guns of the game.  However, in the recent times, especially in the shorter formats, Pakistan have failed to unearth their young batting talent which could well become a matter of concern for them in the upcoming times. Suraj Choudhari goes back into the past and takes a closer look into the present only to conclude that Pakistan don’t have enough young guns in their batting department.  Live Cricket Scorecard: Pakistan vs Bangladesh,14th T20 Match, Super 10 Group 2, ICC T20 World Cup 2016 

As the ICC World T20 2016 is in progress, every team is gearing up and trying to give their best shot at the grandest stage. Pakistan in the recent times have had an awful run in the shortest format of the game, a team which was one of the strongest when the World T20 first commenced back in 2007. In the first edition, they lost in the finals to India in a nail-biting encounter in South Africa. They stuck to their guns and gave a testament of their supremacy when they bounced back emphatically in the second edition and emerged as world champions in 2009. They had a decent run in the next two tournaments where they made it to the semi-finals in 2010 and 2012 but failed to make an impact in 2014. READ: Tamim Iqbal coming in for Mustafizur Rahman could be the boost Bangladesh need in Asia Cup T20 2016.

Pakistan have done reasonably well in Test cricket but the batting attack in this format has been successfully led by veterans Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq who have been the massive contributors with the bat. The same side might struggle once these two giants call it a day from the Test side. In last five years, Pakistan have played as many as 21 Test matches at their adopted home UAE out of which they have tasted success on 11 outings and drawn seven. READ: Pakistan vs Bangladesh, T20 World Cup 2016, Match 14 at Eden Gardens: Mohammad Aamer vs Tamim Iqbal and other Key Battles

They’ve been an overriding vigour in Test cricket but their ODI and T20I fortunes have been complementary. Their performance in ODIs at their adopted home UAE too haven’t been substantial. In fact, in 22 outings in last couple of years at UAE, Pakistan have won just seven and endured defeats on 15 occasions. In T20Is in last five years, Pakistan have locked horns on 57 occasions, winning 32 and losing 23 with couple of them resulting in a tie. READ: Pakistan vs Bangladesh, T20 World Cup 2016 Match 14 at Kolkata: Bangladesh’s likely XI

Cricket is widely considered a young man’s game; a country’s future highly depends on how it’s younger generation fares. Pakistan certainly have not produced effective young batting talent in the recent times. Their career graph in T20 cricket is languishing.

They’ve experimented too much with their top-order without much success. To be precise, since January 2012, Pakistan have experimented with 20 batsmen in the top three which is the most for any team in T20I cricket. Though they are the only team to have played 100 T20Is but the testings clearly state their inadequacy to find a consistent top-order batsman. Since 2012, their top-order has just averaged 20.19 at a strike rate of 112.36.

Their batting nerves were extensively uncovered in the recently wrapped up Asia Cup where they suffered defeats at the hands of India and Bangladesh. Their top-order even failed to hold their grounds against mediocre bowling attack of UAE and Sri Lanka. Shoaib Malik, who was their best batsman in the entire tournament, is again 34 years of age.

The new inclusions like Khurram Manzoor and Sharjeel Khan have not been impactful; in fact, their top three batsmen just averaged 5.44 in the entire Asia Cup 2016. Ahmed Shehzad on the other hand has been inconsistent. Umar  Akmal seems to be the only bright star in the dull Pakistani sky when we talk about some serious young batting talent.

To add to their woes, their run rate of 6.29 in the powerplays since the said period is of 6.29 which are the most terrible for any team in this phase. On the contrary, a Pakistani batsman has scored a fifty in every 9.6 innings which is also the nastiest for any team since January 2012.

Despite having a weak batting attack, Pakistan still manages to be a dominant force in T20I cricket and the reason behind this is unarguably their fearsome bowling. Since January 2012, Pakistan have won 27 games and lost 22 but batting has not played a massive role in this. Their bowlers boast of a fantastic economy of 7.48 in T20Is since January 2012. These are some issues which need to be addressed before the ship is sailed for Pakistan. As of now, the only solution seems to be sighting of young batting talent and groom them for bigger challenges.

(Suraj Choudhari is a reporter with Criclife and CricketCountry. He is an avid follower of the game, and plays the sport at club level. He has a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, and tries to express it through paper and pen)