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Pakistan vs New Zealand T20Is: Will out-of-form Babar Azam lose his opening position to Saim Ayub?

In a strategic move, Pakistan's cricket team is set to introduce a fresh opening pairing in T20 internationals against New Zealand, with Mohammad Rizwan and Saim Ayub taking the top spot.

Pakistan vs New Zealand T20Is: Will out-of-form Babar Azam lose his opening position to Saim Ayub? osf
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First Published Jan 10, 2024, 12:32 PM IST

Babar Azam's absence from the opening position may signal a shift in Pakistan's T20 strategy as they eye a new opening pairing against New Zealand. The team is contemplating introducing Mohammad Rizwan and Saim Ayub at the top, while Babar Azam is expected to bat at No.3. Reports from Auckland indicate a change in approach, with Rizwan and Saim focusing on facing new ball bowlers in practice, while Babar and Fakhar Zaman work on their skills against spinners in separate nets.

Despite the successful partnership between Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan in T20 cricket since 2021, the new leadership, led by captain Shaheen Shah Afridi and supported by high-performance coach Yasir Arafat and team director Muhammad Hafeez, seeks to explore fresh strategies in the upcoming five-match series starting on January 12.

The historic unbeaten partnership of over 150 runs between Babar and Rizwan played a crucial role in Pakistan's T20 World Cup victory against India in Dubai in 2021, marking a significant achievement for the team.

Saim Ayub, known for his aggressive batting style, is expected to complement Rizwan at the top. The 21-year-old, with 8 T20 internationals under his belt last year and a recent Test debut, is seen as a potential partner to provide Pakistan with quicker starts in the initial overs.

Babar Azam's acceptance of the role change, moving to number three, reportedly came after discussions with Shaheen and Hafeez, acknowledging his adjusted responsibilities now that he is no longer the captain in any format.

Despite these adjustments, Pakistan's T20 track record remains impressive, reaching the final of the 2022 World T20 Cup and securing places in the Asia Cup T20 final and the World T20 Cup semi-finals in 2021.

Also Read: Ishan Kishan, Shreyas Iyer excluded from squad for Afghanistan T20Is due to disciplinary issues: Report

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