Strike rates of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma not guaranteed: Ramiz Raja's no-nonsense take on openers Babar and Rizwan | Crickit
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Strike rates of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma not guaranteed: Ramiz Raja's no-nonsense take on openers Babar and Rizwan

By | Written by Siddharth Thakur, New Delhi
Jun 13, 2024 09:14 PM IST

Should Pakistan part ways with the Babar-Rizwan opening pair in the T20 World Cup? Here's what Ramiz Raja thinks.

Even though Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan have not been a strike force in the shortest format, the Pakistani batters have been consistent performers for the Green Army as openers. However, the premier batters have struggled to live up to expectations as openers at the ICC T20 World Cup 2024. Babar and Rizwan opened the innings for Pakistan in its T20 World Cup opener against the United States of America (USA) in Dallas. Babar scored 44 off 43 balls while Rizwan was dismissed for 9 off 8 balls. With Pakistan facing arch-rivals India in the ICC event, Rizwan (31) and Babar (13) failed to cash in on their starts in the blockbuster encounter.

Babar and Rizwan have smashed 5,329 runs with an average of 44.4(AFP-Getty Images)
Babar and Rizwan have smashed 5,329 runs with an average of 44.4(AFP-Getty Images)

Should Pakistan part ways with the Babar-Rizwan opening pair in the T20 World Cup? Former cricketer Ramiz Raja feels Babar's men cannot afford to lose wickets in the powerplay. Thus, the Green Army think tank should continue backing Babar and Rizwan as openers at the ICC event. Talking about the opening conundrum of the former world champions, Raja gave batting icons Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma a special mention.

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‘They may not give you the strike rate of Rohit or Virat’

"Looking at what Pakistan have got, you cannot afford to start by losing wickets. They may not give you the strike rate of a Rohit (Sharma) or a Virat (Kohli), but, you know, at least they give you solidity. And this Pakistan team, with the kind of batting lineup that they've got, they've got to play within what they have got. So it's important that they start off with Babar and Rizwan because it takes years to establish an opening partnership and pair," Raja told Cricbuzz.

Babar and Rizwan have smashed 5,329 runs with an average of 44.4 from the 2021 season in the shortest format. The Pakistani openers have a strike rate of 129.5 in T20Is. Adding Saim Ayub to the lineup, Pakistan demoted Babar to the No.3 position for its must-win clash with Canada. Babar scored 33 off 33 balls after losing the opening spot to Ayub. Opener Rizwan played a match-winning knock of 53 off 53 balls in Pakistan's seven-wicket win over Canada.

'It is important for the team to be fit'

After losing back-to-back games in the T20 World Cup, Pakistan opted to bench Azam Khan in its previous game against Canada. "You see, for me, it is important for the team to be fit. You can't have a separate case for someone who's talented but not fit. Look at Imad Wasim. He was not fit. He couldn't run properly and there were a couple of run out chances (against India). The first thing you need to have is a set standard of fitness," Raja said.

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