Pakistan‘s performance in the 2023 World Cup has fallen short of their expected level. With just two wins out of five matches, they face a tough challenge to reach the semifinals. Their recent loss to Afghanistan was disappointing, as they couldn’t capitalize on their decent total during the second innings.
After three consecutive losses to India, Australia, and Afghanistan, Pakistan is in need of strategic adjustments to improve their performance in the 2023 World Cup. Here are three tactical changes they should consider implementing before it’s too late.
#1 Babar Azam should utilize his occasional spin bowlers more frequently
The main issue Pakistan faces in the 2023 World Cup is the subpar performance of their spin bowlers. Shadab Khan has struggled with accuracy, while Mohammad Nawaz lacked control and wicket-taking ability before falling ill. Usama Mir, brought in to replace Shadab, has performed even worse.
Iftikhar Ahmed has been one of Pakistan’s better spinners, which suggests they should utilize their part-time spin options more frequently. Alongside Iftikhar, they might consider bringing in Agha Salman for an extra spin option.
Giving more overs to their part-time spinners would also enable them to include an additional fast bowler, taking advantage of reverse swing in the latter stages of innings during the World Cup.
#2 Pakistan should adopt a more aggressive approach when batting
Pakistan has been too cautious with their batting strategy, not taking enough risks to set competitive totals. This issue has persisted across different formats.
The absence of Fakhar Zaman from the playing XI has resulted in a lack of attacking intent in the top order. This is evident from the fact that Abdullah Shafique’s powerplay six against Afghanistan marked the team’s first in ODIs in 2023.
Both Captain Babar Azam and Vice-Captain Mohammad Rizwan share some responsibility with relatively low strike rates of 79.69 and 95.87, respectively. Among all the team’s batters, only Iftikhar has a strike rate exceeding 105.
For Pakistan to consistently score above 300 runs and provide better support to their struggling bowling attack, their batters should adopt a more aggressive and free-flowing approach, being less cautious about protecting their wickets.
#3 Clear roles should be established for the middle-order batters, specifically Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed
In the Afghanistan match, Pakistan corrected a tactical mistake they’ve made in recent years.
Shadab Khan, a strong player of spin, has been underused in batting, often coming in after Iftikhar, who handles fast bowlers better but struggles against spin, as seen in matches against India and Australia.
Saud Shakeel, Pakistan’s best player of spin in the middle order, hasn’t had enough opportunities against spin.
Mohammad Nawaz, with only 57 runs, faced challenges due to a lack of support. Pakistan needs to clarify middle-order roles and assign them effectively for a better performance in the 2023 World Cup.