Pakistan skipper Babar: Pakistan coach Matthew Hayden believes struggling captain Babar Azam can produce something special in the Twenty20 World Cup knockout stages, which begin with Wednesday’s semi-final against New Zealand. Opener Babar played his first notable innings against Bangladesh in their final group match on Sunday, as Pakistan advanced to the semi-finals thanks to the Netherlands’ upset of South Africa.
Babar scored 25 runs at Adelaide Oval after scoring just 14 in his previous four tournament matches, and former Australia opener Hayden predicted even bigger innings on Wednesday.
“Don’t be surprised if you see some fireworks,” Hayden told reporters. “Very special players don’t often stay down for long.”
“Babar has faced some adversity, but it has only served to make him a better player…. you can’t keep punching out hundreds and fifties and strike rates of 140+, there has to be a lull.”
“When there is a lull in the weather, there is often a storm that follows.” So keep an eye out, rest of the world, because I believe you’re about to witness something very special.”
With Babar and his long-time opening partner Mohammad Rizwan both struggling for runs, Hayden was impressed with the way Pakistan’s middle order stood up.
He singled out Mohammad Haris, who came in as a mid-tournament injury replacement for Pakistan and has scored 59 runs in two innings.
“One of the things about this type of tournament is that almost the entire cricketing community is tired to some degree,” Hayden added.
“Having a young, fresh face with nothing to lose, nothing to gain, but just playing with great freedom has been a wonderful expression for him personally, but also for team Pakistan.”
Despite their poor start to the tournament, Hayden believed Pakistan had a good chance of reaching the final with pacemen Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Wasim, and Haris Rauf firing at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because, at the last World Cup, we went into the semi-finals undefeated and were beaten by Australia,” he said.
“I truly believe we have yet to play our best game, which poses a significant threat to opponents.”
“The middle order has been excellent, and those fast bowlers, man, there are four of them, and they come at a great pace.”