Opportunity for Pakistan to iron out minor chinks in the armour against resurgent Scotland

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safari
07 Nov 2021 | 05:45 AM
authorShweta Haranhalli

Opportunity for Pakistan to iron out minor chinks in the armour against resurgent Scotland

With comprehensive wins in the first four games, Pakistan will aim to end the league stage on a high and carry the momentum in the semi-finals.

It promises to be a blockbuster Sunday as the high-voltage tournament is heading into the business end with still a place up for grabs in the semi-finals from the second group of the competition. Millions of fans across the globe will be glued to their television sets, waiting eagerly for the outcome of the afternoon game featuring New Zealand and Afghanistan mainly because the hopes of the Indian side to make it to the semi-final hinges on this game. 

While all the focus and attention has been on the first game of the day at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, a 90-minute drive away from the venue will witness two sides at different ends of the spectrum aiming for a perfect finish at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. The evening game between Pakistan and Scotland might be inconsequential in the context of the tournament; however, for the two sides, it provides them with an opportunity to inch closer to their goal.

After becoming the first team to qualify for the semi-finals with four wins in a row, Pakistan will aim to iron out minor chinks in their armour before the knockout stage of this iconic competition. On the other hand, Scotland have endured a lukewarm performance in the Super 12 stage and will want to end the tournament on a high. 

Decoding the reason behind Pakistan's domination

One of the significant reasons for Pakistan's consistent performances in the shortest format of the game has been their opening combination of Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam. The duo have been the mainstays in the batting unit and amassed 1134 runs in 19 innings at an average of 66.7, making them the most successful pair for the side. 

In the last game against Namibia, Rizwan struggled to get going against Ruben Trumpelmann and started the innings slowly. However, Babar shouldered the responsibility of the side and unleashed a flurry of strokes all across the ground to lay a solid foundation in the first half of the innings. 

The formidable opening combination has been involved in four-century stands resulting in Pakistan registering comprehensive victories in all the matches. Babar has 14 half-centuries as captain, which is the most by any player, surpassing Virat Kohli's record of 13. 

All eyes on Safyaan Sharif to rattle the opening combination

The leading wicket-taker for Scotland, Safyaan Sharif has been one of the most economical bowlers in the tournament. The right-arm pacer has bowled a majority of his overs inside the powerplay having picked up five wickets at an economy rate of 4.4 runs per over. The onus of the side with the new ball will rely heavily on Sharif, and Scotland will hope for the 30-year old to dent the opposition batting unit with early breakthroughs. In the last match against the Kiwis, Sharif derailed the top order by picking up two wickets in the fifth over to create inroads in the batting department.

With Josh Davey ruled out of the tournament, Sharif will also have to be at his best in the death. In his four matches, Davey had picked up six wickets at an economy rate of a little over seven. The likes of Brad Wheal and Alasdair Evans will have to shoulder the responsibility along with Sharif.

Can Mark Watt weave his magic?

One of the standout bowlers in this edition of the tournament, Mark Watt, will be the key player for Scotland in this match. The left arm-spinner has stifled the opposition with his consistent line and length. Barring his outing against India, the 25-year old has conceded at an economy rate of less than six runs per over and scalped seven wickets in the tournament. With plenty of right-handed batters in the opposition batting unit, the team management would hope for their premier spinner to weave his magic and end the world event on a high.

Hasan Ali's lack of form might hurt Pakistan

While Pakistan have been clinical with their performances all through this tournament, the team would be concerned about the inconsistency shown by Hasan Ali in the competition. The 27-year old has conceded at an economy rate of 8.7 runs, which is the second-worst among players with a minimum of 15 overs.

A detailed analysis of the above image helps us understand that one of the most experienced bowlers in the Pakistan side, Hasan, has failed to stem the flow of runs and consistently bowled at the good length area, which is in the hitting arc of the batters. One of the most surprising aspects of his bowling in this edition has been the lack of yorkers. On a sluggish wicket on offer at the United Arab Emirates, the ball pitched halfway down the wicket has often sailed over the boundary ropes due to lack of bounce and the slowness of the surface. While Pakistan have been unchanged throughout the tournament, they would hope for Hasan to find form in this game and tick another box before the commencement of the knockout stages. 

Probable XI:

Pakistan: Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi

Scotland: George Munsey, Kyle Coetzer (c), Matthew Cross (wk), Richie Berrington, Calum MacLeod, Michael Leask, Chris Greaves, Mark Watt, Safyaan Sharif, Alasdair Evans, Bradley Wheal 

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Pakistan vs ScotlandICC World Twenty20, 2021PakistanScotlandBabar AzamMohammad RizwanMark WattHasan AliSafyaan Sharif

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