With only a few ODIs remaining before the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup in India, Pakistan batter Imam-ul-Haq has called for a halt to experimentation within the team’s underperforming middle-order, despite their 3-0 lead over New Zealand in the ongoing five-match home ODI series. After being named the player of the match in the third ODI, Imam expressed skepticism about employing Iftikhar Ahmed or Mohammad Haris as power-hitters during the middle overs.
Imam emphasized the importance of instilling confidence in players like Agha Salman, Shadab Khan, and Mohammad Nawaz rather than attempting last-minute experiments. While Pakistan’s top three batsmen – Imam, Fakhar Zaman, and Babar Azam – have contributed significantly to the team’s overall performance, the middle order has struggled to maintain momentum. Imam acknowledged the need for a stable lineup leading into the World Cup, as well as the necessity for bowlers to take wickets during middle overs.
The current Pakistan lineup for the New Zealand series includes numerous players with strong ODI records, boosting their chances of making the World Cup roster. However, many top-order players have been pushed down to the middle order, creating a sense of competition. According to Imam, handling pressure and maintaining fitness is crucial for staying relevant in the team.
Imam also noted that his role in the team has evolved to incorporate a more aggressive approach, but he adapted his play to suit the difficult batting conditions in Rawalpindi during the recent match. In that game, Pakistan scored 287/6 in their 50 overs, with significant contributions from Imam and Babar Azam. New Zealand’s chase fell short by 26 runs, despite valiant efforts from Tom Blundell, Tom Latham, and debutant Cole McConchie.
Both teams are set to face off today in fourth of the five match ODI-series.