Harsh to judge Azam Khan after just two knocks, insists Misbah-ul-Haq

Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq defended young Azam Khan, and believes that it will be unfair to judge the 22-year-old based on just two knocks, after the right-hander failed to light up the stage against England. Misbah further admitted that Pakistan are enduring ‘same old’ middle-order problems.

There was spotlight on Azam Khan prior to the England T20Is, not just because of him being the legendary Moin Khan’s son, but also because of his ludicrous hitting ability. The right-hander had developed the reputation of being a middle-order dynamite, through his stints in PSL and LPL, and hence many expected the 22-year-old to shine for Pakistan, particularly with the team searching for big hitters. That didn’t suffice against the Three Lions, however, with Khan just scoring 6 runs across the series, not showcasing his potential batting at No.6.

Failure to live up to the hype saw Khan endure the wrath of fans and media, but ahead of the West Indies T20Is, the 22-year-old has been defended by head coach Misbah-ul-Haq. Misbah insisted that it will be unfair to judge a player based on one (two) innings, and claimed that a judgement can be passed on Khan only when he plays more matches in the middle-order.

“Azam only really had one innings, so it’s very early to say anything about him. When he plays more, things will become clearer,” Misbah said, reported ESPN Cricinfo.

“Whichever player bats at that position needs to score quick runs. When you play at number six your average might not be very high, so you can’t judge on one game.”

Khan was a part of a middle-order that misfired across the three-match T20I series, and Misbah admitted that numbers 3-6 is still an area of huge concern for Pakistan. While revealing that Pakistan are closer to finding their best XI for the WT20, Misbah stated that his side will need to look at a roadmap for improvement.

“We are close to finding out our final combination. We still have the same problems, that our middle order isn’t performing the way our top order is. We know 8-9 players of our playing XI as well as their replacements.

“We have to view every game as important and improve our performance. England were a top team in difficult conditions, but we have to look at a roadmap for improvement. Of course, losses shatter your confidence, and we just have to try and build it back.”

Pakistan were also outbowled by England in each of the last two games, and Misbah admitted that his side did not bowl as well as they did in the tour of South Africa. The Pakistan head coach also hoped for ‘three-dimensional’ lower-order players like Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan to link up better with the middle-order in order to strengthen the side.

“But it’s true, we didn’t bowl as well in England as we did in South Africa or at home. There have been some huge overs we’ve allowed which has had an impact on results.

“The results before the England series were much improved, we won 3 series in a row. [Mohammad] Hafeez has not been doing as well as he did last year, and other middle-order players are struggling.

“Overall, the team is better but if these two aspects of our game improve, then we’d be in a much better position. The importance of three-dimensional players and the lower middle order is very important. Players like Hasan Ali and Shadab (Khan) and their performances are crucial, but the link with the middle order needs to be stronger.”

Pakistan’s five-match T20I series against West Indies will commence on July 27 in Barbados.

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