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Should Fakhar Zaman be dropped?

TAUNTON, ENGLAND – JUNE 12: Pat Cummins of Australia celebrates taking the wicket of Fakhar Zaman of Pakistan during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between Australia and Pakistan at The County Ground on June 12, 2019, in Taunton, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Ever since Fakhar Zaman made his debut, people have had mixed opinions about him. Some called him weird names for having an unorthodox technique and some praised him for his attacking mindset and aggressive nature. In reality, since the time Fakhar Zaman has started opening for Pakistan in ODI’s, the team has started getting better starts and has regularly started scoring 300+ runs.

Champions Trophy 2017

Fakhar’s career kicked off in the Champions Trophy 2017 where he replaced Ahmad Shahzad in the playing XI and scoring a blistering 31 vs South Africa contributing to Pakistan’s total in a chase that was rain-affected. In the very next match vs Sri Lanka, Fakhar scored a half-century while chasing which ended up as a nail-biter.

Consistency of Fakhar continued as he scored another half-century against England in the semi-finals once again while chasing, and finally in the final Fakhar unleashed the real him that he had been portraying in the domestic circuit for years which had him knocking the selector’s doors for quite a while. 114 runs in a final against India that too in an ICC final was no less than a fairytale to start off his career.

Series against Sri Lanka

In the next series vs Sri Lanka, Fakhar only managed to score 148 runs in 5 matches with an average of 29.6. It was a poor outing but he followed the very next series vs New Zealand at their home by scoring 150 runs in 4 games at an average of 50. On the same tour, he managed to score a quick 50 in the T20I’s that Pakistan won.

Series against Zimbabwe

Ups and downs continued in Fakhar’s career but it was a series vs Zimbabwe where he scored 515 runs in 5 matches at an average of 257.50. In this series, he became the first-ever Pakistani batsman to score a double century which was a very big feat for him as he was still new to the international circuit. He also became the fastest to complete 1000 runs in ODI cricket, he achieved that feat in only 17 innings. Apart from all that, he made a new record of most runs scored by a batsman in a 5 match ODI series.

Asia Cup 2018

Fakhar was highly criticized for his poor run in the Asia Cup 2018 where he only managed to score 56 runs in 5 matches. His weakness against spinners was exposed during this tournament and it was shocking for the Pakistani’s to see him struggle this way as he had been coming in from a belter of a series vs Zimbabwe where he also fared well and won Pakistan the tri-series tournament final vs Australia in which he scored 91 of 46 deliveries.

World Cup 2019

Later in 2019, Pakistan was set to play the World Cup and the following series before the World Cup, Pakistan was playing England. In the 2nd ODI Fakhar managed to score 138 and almost sealed Pakistan victory, Fakhar showed sheer aggression and fightback during that innings as Pakistan were chasing a target of 370+.

However, in the World Cup, Fakhar once again had a below-par outing where he only scored 186 runs in 8 matches at an average of 23.25. These were the worst stats among Pakistani batsmen in the World Cup and it turned out to be a forgetful World Cup for Fakhar Zaman. Many fans were campaigning for Fakhar to be dropped from the side after the World Cup but the selectors stuck with him for the series vs SL.

Fakhar’s place in ODI Side

Although Fakhar failed to deliver in big tournaments for Pakistan such as the Asia Cup and World Cup, his record vs top-ranked ODI teams is phenomenal. Even while chasing he maintains a good average against them and proves his worth to the side. In 27 matches that Fakhar played against Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, and England; he has scored 1055 runs out of 1958 at an average of 40.57. His average while chasing against the same teams is 42.38 scoring 551 runs in 14 matches. This is a very respectable record as Pakistan has always struggled to chase against high ranked teams and Fakhar has made it look easier for his side.

Moreover, the Pakistani team combination with Fakhar in it looks very much stable. Imam, Fakhar, Babar, and Harris are what the top order consists of in which all have an average above 45. The opening pair of Imam and Fakhar is unmatched, Imam has an average of 53.8 and Fakhar averages 46.16. Both manage to give Pakistan good starts regularly and after a very long time, Pakistan seems to have settled openers in ODI’s.

Whether Fakhar should be left out of the ODI side is something for the selectors to decide and think about, but considering his impeccable record and how much stability he brings to the side, the selectors would have the reconsider their thought if it ever crosses their mind to let go off Fakhar Zaman.

Also Read: Asia Cup 2020 called off, to be staged in June 2021

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