PakPassion member Markhor looks forward to the upcoming 7-match T20I series against England and wonders if the hosts will change their batting strategy in light of their disappointments in the recently concluded Asia Cup.
By Markhor (20 September 2022)
Since the Asia Cup final defeat, much has been said about Pakistan's more attritional brand of cricket compared to other nations. With a 7-match T20I series coming up against a team that's epitomised aggression in white ball cricket in England, it's useful to study the numbers.
Both teams have contrasting fortunes with Pakistan winning 8 from their last 12, and England winning 4 from their last 11. For the sake of this analysis, only matches involving top 10 ICC ranked T20I teams are included since the 2021 T20 WC.
The international average is 24.24/8.03 (batting) and 24.95/8.09 (bowling). Therefore you can see Pakistan fare worse than the international average with the bat, but better with the ball. England are worse in runs per dismissal, but way ahead in scoring rate. As a bowling unit, they are statistically the worst in the top 10.
For reference - India have the best batting unit (32.06/9.06); Australia possess the best bowling lineup (19.00/7.25).
Now it's difficult to interpret T20I performances outside World Cups to any great depth given the wide variance of players used and strength of opposition - whereas England tend to name experimental squads, Pakistan treat them like life and death.
However I'll give another plug to the excellent book Hitting Against the Spin authored by two leading cricket statisticians, one of whom worked with Multan Sultans. I won't give too much away because I encourage everyone to read it - but their section on T20 cricket is particularly enlightening. They highlight there isn't necessarily a right or wrong way to play T20 cricket BUT some styles of play are more effective at countering certain setups.
They'd classify current Pakistan as an "AA" side - a simplified category typifying sides that bat slower at a higher dismissal rate with a better bowling unit than average; and England as a "CD" side - who bat quicker with a higher dismissal rate and take less wickets at a worse economy than than par. According to data from T20 leagues, Pakistan-like sides enjoy a narrow advantage over England-like opponents.
However, Pakistan-like teams on the T20 circuit fare worst against a particular type of outfit - those that bat quicker than the norm who lose more wickets than average with strong bowling attacks relative to international standards - with an 11% win rate.
The point being - I'm not arguing Pakistan's T20 formula should be completely overhauled. You can enjoy a degree of success playing the Babar/Saqlain way. However the statistics demonstrably show the limits of this approach against aggressive teams who don't obsess over preserving wickets.
Will Pakistan in this series and NZ tri-series bank on the usual formula or will we show flexibility ?