Former Pakistan cricketer Imran Nazir picked Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Rizwan as his opening duo of the Men in Green for the T20 World Cup 2024.

The marquee event is already underway in the USA and the West Indies. Before Pakistan`s opening clash against the USA on June 6 in Texas, there has been a lot of debate about the ideal opening pair for the Men in Green.

Saim Ayub`s struggle to find consistency in the opening slot has resulted in former players voicing their concerns over the opening duo.

Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja has rooted for captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan as the opening duo for the tournament.

But Nazir went for a surprise pick and batted for Zaman to open alongside Rizwan. The former batter feels that the duo could put runs on the board in the powerplay which is an important factor in T20 cricket.

“We can only talk about the players from the 15-man squad, not those who are already out. If I talk about Fakhar [Zaman], I think he is one of those batters [for opening],” Nazir said while talking on Geo News.

“If you cannot set the tune [of the match] in the first six overs, neither you can chase the target, nor you can score a big total. For a long time, we have the same players opening the innings, Saim [Ayub] got the chance but he could not do much. I would go with Fakhar opening the innings alongside Rizwan and Babar would come at number three,” he added.

Opening batter Ahmed Shehzad was in sync with Nazir`s views of mustering up runs in the powerplay and feels that Usman Khan should come out to bat with Rizwan.

“I will agree with some of Imran bhai`s points because it is very important to have a good start in the first six overs. Gone are the days when you used to play in the UAE where you would score 140 or 145 and defend the target because of your elite spin attack,” Shehzad said.

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“It is one thing to play a poor ball and time it perfectly, everyone can do that. But when you score boundaries on great balls then it affects the bowlers and the team. So, keeping everything in mind, Rizwan should open alongside Usman Khan,” he added.

Shehzad went on to state the reason for putting Usman in the opening slot. He refrained from putting Babar in the opening slot as it would leave the middle order vulnerable.

“Usman Khan because if you have put him in the team, then play him at his position. He showed his potential in the last match [against England]. If Babar comes as an opener, then our middle order is already vulnerable, who will stand there? So, he should come in at number three and try to take the game deep with a good strike rate,” Shehaz stated.

Pakistan will kick off their campaign against the US on June 6. They will face arch-rival India on June 9 at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, New York.

Pakistan`s T20 World Cup 2024 squad: Babar Azam (c), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Khan

(With agency inputs)

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