Ramiz Raja wants Babar to drop Pakistan star for IND-PAK clash: ‘Not worth it’ | Cricket

In the inaugural clash of the Asia Cup 2023 on Wednesday, Pakistan showcased their dominance over Nepal with a resounding 238-run triumph in Multan. Babar Azam, the top-ranked batsman in the world, along with Iftikhar Ahmed, delivered exceptional performances; Babar’s impressive knock of 151 runs from 131 deliveries marked his 19th ODI ton, while Iftikhar’s unbeaten 109 runs off 71 balls was his maiden century in the format. Riding on the hundreds, Pakistan out a mammoth 342/6 before the bowlers made easy work of Nepal batters, bowling them out for merely 104 in 23.4 overs.

Pakistan's players celebrate after the dismissal of Nepal's Gulsan Jha (not pictured) during the Asia Cup 2023(AFP)
Pakistan’s players celebrate after the dismissal of Nepal’s Gulsan Jha (not pictured) during the Asia Cup 2023(AFP)

Pakistan did, however, faced initial setbacks with openers Fakhar Zaman (14) and Imam-ul-Haq (9) departing cheaply; the lack of form for Fakhar remains a particular concern for the team management. The left-handed opener had endured a poor outing in the recent ODI series against Afghanistan as well, registering scores of 2, 30, and 27 across three games. With match against India up next and key games coming up in Asia Cup as well as the ODI World Cup in October-November, an out-of-form opener is a far from ideal situation for Pakistan.

Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja believes that Fakhar needs to be sidelined for a significant period of time to ensure he regains focus.

“The big problem is Fakhar Zaman. He is an unorthodox hitter, but when someone like that gets out of form, it takes some time to fi nd solutions on the drawing board. He’s a bottom-handed player, plays on the leg-side, somehow he adjusts with that and scores,” said Ramiz on his official YouTube channel.

“He played three matches against Afghanistan and couldn’t make a mark as well. His body language is suffering, and Pakistan need an in-form opener. If Imam also gets dismissed cheaply, it creates pressure. Pakistan need to assess Fakhar. I believe they should rest him, give him some time out. Sidelining him is better for him as well as the Pakistan side. He’s a good player, Pakistan has given him chances. But against India, with the form that he has, that chance is not worth being taken.”

India next

Pakistan will take on India in an electrifying Group A clash up next on Saturday. Babar Azam’s men traveled to Sri Lanka for the game in Kandy, as India aim to start their campaign with a victory over their arch-rivals.

India and Pakistan can potentially meet thrice throughout the tournament, given both sides qualify for the Super Fours and the final.

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