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Matthew Hayden has thrown his support behind Pakistan captain Babar Azam and wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan, saying they are the best opening combination.
There has been a lot of talk about who should open the batting for Pakistan in T20Is and while Azam and Rizwan have occupied the opening spots for quite some time, not everyone is happy about it.
Some critics have lashed out at the duo for scoring too slowly and putting a lot of pressure on the middle order batsmen to up the ante after they get out.
This has led to some people, including former Pakistan players, suggesting that a more attacking batsman replace Azam or Rizwan at the top of the order. Whichever one of them is replaced would then bat at number three.
However, there have been no signals to indicate that such a change will be made anytime soon.
Nonetheless, Hayden, a former Australia opener who has worked with the Pakistan team as a batting consultant and mentor, firmly believes that there is no better option than Azam and Rizwan when it comes to picking the best openers.
“Babar and Rizwan rightly are the number one combination,” he was quoted as saying by A Sports.
Azam and Rizwan were recently in action for Pakistan during their home series against New Zealand.
In the two Tests, Azam scored 226 runs, which included a top score of 161, at an average of 56.50.
He followed that up with 149 runs in the three-match ODI series, which included two half-centuries, at an average of 49.66.
As for Rizwan, he wasn’t picked in the playing XI for both Tests as Pakistan opted to choose Sarfaraz Ahmed instead.
However, he did get the opportunity to play in the ODI series and amassed 182 runs, which included two fifties, at an average of 91.
With the Test series ending as a 0-0 draw and Pakistan losing the ODI series 2-1, Azam has found himself under immense pressure, to the point where there has been speculation that he may no longer captain the men in green in all three formats.
Word has spread that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) are allegedly interested in splitting the captaincy and top order batsman Shan Masood has apparently emerged as an early frontrunner to replace Azam as ODI captain.
In the meantime, Azam will lead the Peshawar Zalmi in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), while Rizwan will captain the Multan Sultans.
The Sultans will be in action on opening night as they will face the Lahore Qalandars on February 13.
As for the Zalmi, they will take on the Kings on February 14.
Peshawar Zalmi Squad for PSL 8: Babar Azam, Rovman Powell, Bhanuka Rajapaksa (Sri Lanka), Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Sherfane Rutherford, Wahab Riaz, Arshad Iqbal, Danish Aziz, Mohammad Haris, Aamer Jamal, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Saim Ayub, Salman Irshad, Usman Qadir, Haseebullah Khan, Sufyan Muqeem, James Neesham, Khurram Shahzad, Haris Sohail and Richard Gleeson
Multan Sultans Squad for PSL 8: David Miller, Josh Little, Mohammad Rizwan, Khushdil Shah, Rilee Rossouw, Shan Masood, Akeal Hosein, Shahnawaz Dahani, Tim David, Anwar Ali, Sameen Gul, Sarwar Afridi, Usama Mir, Usman Khan, Abbas Afridi, Ihsanullah, Adil Rashid, Arafat Minhas, Kieron Pollard, Amad Butt, Wayne Parnell and Izharulhaq Naveed
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