Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Hayden throws his weight behind struggling Zaman. In four innings so far, Zaman has scored 54 runs in 60 balls
In four innings so far, Zaman has scored 54 runs in 60 balls
Matthew Hayden was absorbed in Pakistan's coaching set up only a month before the T20 WC, along with the others in the group – Saqlain Mushtaq and Vernon Philander, with the task of getting a hurt unit to overcome the biggest challenge in T20 Internationals, and win the tournament.
He, though, is in a similar position to that of his longtime opening partner Justin Langer. Neither can win the game for the teams they are respectively working with in the ongoing competition, when they face off in the semifinal on Thursday.
In a short span of time, he has found great success with Pakistan clinically outperforming all their five opponents in the Super 12 phase, and with it extending their winning streak in UAE to 16 matches. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan have been the best openers on show, while the bowling attack too has been the most effective so far in the tournament. Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali have played their parts in finishing matches, and Pakistan look a perfectly oiled team at the moment.
Fakhar Zaman though has failed to fire so far. Despite playing a couple of breezy knocks in the warm-ups – against West Indies (24-ball 46*) and South Africa (28-ball 52 retd.) – he has found the slow nature of wickets in the main tournament a bit too troublesome.
In four innings so far, he has scored 54 runs in 60 balls. Hayden, however, isn't too fussed about Fakhar's form, and believes that the southpaw adds more value to the team than just his batting.
“Fakhar is a very interesting personality and character, and the longer that I spend time with him, the more that I really enjoy his personality and character,” Hayden said on Wednesday. “The fact that he was in the Navy for seven years gives you a pretty strong indication of his ability to be able to fight and fight hard.
“Not only just from a batting perspective but the contributions within a T20 setup is that you have to be as a general policy a two-dimensional player, and Fakhar has been the standout outfielder for our team, as well. He saves literally five to ten runs every game, and five to ten runs within a T20 concept and batting lineup, include your own runs maybe 20s and 30s here and there, means that overall he's just been such an important part of the side.”
Fakhar, who primarily plays as an opener, has had to be accommodated in the middle order in the last few months in order to ensure the successful combination of Babar and Rizwan is retained at the top of the order. Being the only left-hander in the top six has its own advantages, and Hayden believes he will be the key player to counter Adam Zampa's legspin in the semifinal.
“Don't be surprised if you see something incredibly special from him tomorrow, as well, because he is smashing the ball in the nets,” he said. “In particular if you look at a potential matchup against Adam Zampa, who's been the leading wicket taker in the ICC Men's T20 WC, I think that is a fantastic target, an opportunity for Fakhar to really dominate and position Pakistan in a strong competitive state.
“Already I think he's contributed nicely. Yet to star like some of the others, and that's the great benefit, right, of having an in-form batting lineup. Bear in mind, unlike Test cricket, T20 cricket is just about impact. We've seen Asif come in and smash 24 runs against New Zealand to win you a game, and if you look at his overall stats, you'd go, is he impressive in this tournament or not? But that's not T20 cricket. Making an impact is significant, and Fakhar is certainly one of those that can do that tomorrow.”
He believes the challenge Pakistani batters face in the nets, against a high-quality pace attack that they boast in their squad and the travelling reserves, will help them cope against Australia and Co on Thursday.
“Every day these boys are facing Shaheen Afridi with a new ball in the nets and it's sometimes swinging, sometimes not, but the pace is still there like Mitch (Mitchell Starc). So they get this great opportunity to train against the very highest level of fast bowling, as well.
“There's a couple of boys that you haven't seen, as well, in this squad that will play their role in the future, no doubt, as well, in Shahnawaz Dahani and Mohammad Wasim Jr. Lots of practice against great quality bowling I think is a huge advantage, similar to the day where as an Australian opening batsman, JL and I would go to the nets, which enabled you then to come to play your best game when it came to the actual match itself.”