No problem with middle order; this tournament has been different, says Pakistan's Masood

by IANS |

Adelaide, Nov 5 (IANS) Pakistan batter Shan Masood has asserted there is no problem with the middle order, adding that there has been a huge improvement in the side as they have negotiated the ICC T20 World Cup here.

Pakistan find themselves in an unenviable situation with the team staring at an early elimination if South Africa defeat Netherlands and India overcome Zimbabwe in their last Super 12 Group 2 assignments on Sunday. Sandwiched between the two games is Pakistan's fixture against Bangladesh.

Of late, Pakistan have mostly fired when their top-order of Mohammad Rizwan, skipper Babar Azam and Shan Masoon has scored runs. Asked if the problem is persisting during the T20 World Cup, Masood said the middle order has been "stepping up" and producing its "A-game".

"I don't think specifically (there is a problem with the middle order) because, again, you'll have to look at situations. I think in this tournament it has been different. It has been a case where, especially if you look at the last game (against South Africa), we were 40 for 4. That's when the middle order really stepped up and produced their A-game. Against India we got a decent score on the board. 160 was I think a good score, above par score at the MCG," said Masood.

The solitary-run loss to Zimbabwe will hurt Pakistan for years to come, where the middle order simply cracked as the opponents managed to defend a below-par 130 in Perth.

"Zimbabwe maybe (the middle order did not fire), but again, we had that game in control. We were 80/2 after 13 overs, and we only had to chase around a ball with eight wickets in hand. So I think there have been significant improvements. We look at the situation. There will be situations where the openers get the chunk of the runs as they've done for years a couple of years now. That's when the middle order has a smaller role to play, but an effective role and a very sort of reduced role to play where they get less balls, but they have to score at a quick pace there.

"But then there will be situations like we found a couple of times at the World Cup where we lose our two key players at the top, but then the middle order has to step in and chase their target or put a score on the board. So I think there have been improvements in regards to that," he added.

Looking ahead to the game against Bangladesh on Sunday, with a win not guaranteeing Pakistan a place in the last-four, Masood said the team will try its best to do whatever they can control.

"What's important is what we have realised through some harsh lessons that we can only do what's in our control. Losing two games (India and Zimbabwe) was not easy, but after that I think the team has responded well in doing whatever they can control, whatever we can control. So we're just going to control our performances. We're going to control the first 20 overs first. And then once the break is done, we'll analyse again and we will see where we are. Then we'll try and control the next 20 overs. Whether it's with the bat or ball, again, it's not within our control.

"You play for pride. You play for yourself. You play for your country. We don't need to look at other things. We just need to look at ourselves. We need to produce our best performances, and we're going to try and make up for whatever we didn't achieve before," he added.

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