Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra has drawn attention to Pakistan's longstanding batting issues at the No. 4 position in One Day Internationals (ODIs). In a video posted on his YouTube channel, Chopra noted that no Pakistan batsman has managed to score a century at No. 4 since 2019, shedding light on the challenges faced by the Men in Green in this crucial batting slot.
As Pakistan faced Sri Lanka in their final Asia Cup 2023 Super Four game on September 14, Chopra's analysis highlighted a glaring problem that Babar Azam's team needs to address to enhance their ODI performance.
Chopra began his discussion by emphasizing the absence of a century-maker at the No. 4 position for Pakistan since 2019. He identified several batsmen who have occupied this spot, including Mohammad Rizwan, Haris Sohail, Haider Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Agha Salman, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shan Masood, and Saud Shakeel.
He stated, “We need to talk about Pakistan and their No. 4 woes. There hasn't been even a single Pakistan batter who has scored a century since 2019 at No. 4.”
Chopra went on to underline that not only have these batsmen failed to reach the three-figure mark, but they have also not been prolific in scoring half-centuries. He stated, “Forget about the hundred. Among them, there are only two batters who have scored half-centuries as well. Rizwan has seven half-centuries while batting at No. 4, and Haris Sohail has one half-century.”
Mohammad Rizwan suspect as Pakistan No.4?
Analyzing the statistics further, Chopra pointed out that even Mohammad Rizwan, who has the most innings at No. 4 during this period, does not boast impressive overall numbers. Rizwan has scored seven half-centuries at an average of nearly 37 and a strike rate of 85 in his 28 innings at No. 4.
Chopra expressed his concerns about this persistent issue in Pakistan's ODI lineup, particularly considering that they often play on batting-friendly surfaces. He said, “None of the other Test-playing nations have any such story that it has been four years and none of their No. 4 batters have scored a century. It has not been scored for them (Pakistan) although they play on good pitches. So Pakistan, think about it, that is a potential problem.”
To address this problem, Pakistan made changes in their playing XI for the Asia Cup game against Sri Lanka. They included Mohammad Haris and Saud Shakeel, leaving out Fakhar Zaman and Agha Salman. It remains to be seen whether these changes will bring about a transformation in Pakistan's performance at the No. 4 position.
In conclusion, Aakash Chopra's analysis has shone a spotlight on Pakistan's persisting challenges at the No. 4 position in ODIs. The lack of centuries and infrequent half-centuries by batsmen occupying this crucial spot is a concern that Pakistan's cricketing authorities and team management need to address promptly to enhance their competitiveness in ODI cricket.