Mentor Matthew Hayden said during a pre-match news conference that during the ups and downs of the campaign, players told him: “Welcome to Pakistan cricket.”
“Meaning that on any given day, anything can happen. And on that particular day, when Netherlands beat South Africa, it was a significant moment for us in the tournament and a very, very significant moment for the team in general around … reaching that potential,” Hayden said. “Incredible experience … it’s been a rollercoaster ride.”
The inclusion of power-hitter Mohammad Haris in place of injured Fakhar Zaman sparked new life in an otherwise struggling top order as he blasted 28 off 11 balls against South Africa and then hammered 31 off 18 deliveries against Bangladesh in a five-wicket victory.
The luxury of having two spinning all-rounders Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan, who both can bat as high as No. 4, allowed Pakistan to include Mohammad Wasim as the fourth fast bowler. Pakistan went with five specialist bowlers and left out Wasim against India before Virat Kohli played the T20 innings of his life and took the match away from them.
The struggles of Babar and Mohammad Rizwan’s opening partnership is another headache for Pakistan with just one half century stand between them in four games. Rizwan has scored 103 runs in five innings, while Babar had four single-digit scores before he struggled to make 25 against Bangladesh.
Shaheen Shah Afridi, back from knee injury, appeared to get his bowling rhythm back with a four-wicket haul against Bangladesh. And with Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah also in the ranks, Pakistan has a formidable pace attack to challenge New Zealand batters.