Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has weighed in on Pakistan’s opening batting struggles, specifically pointing fingers at young batter Saim Ayub for the team’s slow starts in T20Is.

Afridi didn’t mince his words, stating that the responsibility for Pakistan’s sluggish beginnings does not lie with established players like Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, but squarely on the shoulders of Saim Ayub.

Despite being provided with numerous opportunities, Ayub has failed to make a significant impact, according to Afridi. Since his T20I debut against Afghanistan last year, Ayub’s performance has been lacklustre, managing only 219 runs in 15 innings at a modest strike rate of 125.86.

Afridi highlighted Ayub’s recent struggles as he accumulated a mere 96 runs in the last eight innings, averaging a paltry 12 with a strike rate of 129.72.


Expressing his disappointment, Afridi emphasized the importance of Ayub stepping up and delivering consistent performances, especially considering the critical role of the opening partnership in shaping the outcome of matches.

“Saim [Ayub] is the issue, not Babar [Azam] and [Mohammad] Rizwan. Saim has been given many opportunities but he has failed to deliver,” said Afridi while speaking to a local news channel.

Despite acknowledging Ayub’s talent, Afridi stressed the need for tangible results, urging the young batter to convert potential into match-winning contributions.

“A lot of people are a fan of his talent but we need runs from Saim since the opening stand is a crucial part of the game. I think he has played 15 T20I innings but is yet to score a fifty,” he added.

In light of Ayub’s underwhelming performances, Afridi proposed an alternative solution, suggesting that veteran opener Fakhar Zaman could be deployed as an opener in the upcoming T20 World Cup if Ayub fails to impress during the Ireland and England tours.


“Saim needs to show more responsibility during matches and score game-changing runs in at least two out of every five innings,” stated the former all-rounder.

“We have not seen this from Saim so far but he might get more chances. If this doesn’t work out, Pakistan could give chance to Fakhar Zaman as an opener during the World Cup.”

Zaman, with his wealth of experience, could offer a dynamic and aggressive approach at the top of the order, injecting much-needed momentum into Pakistan’s batting lineup.

However, even his track record as an opener in T20Is does not reflect the reputation he carries as a master blaster. Zaman has played 36 innings in T20Is as an opener, scoring 812 runs at an average of 20.44 with a strike rate of 130.98.

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