Saim Ayub.
Saim Ayub. Image Credit: X

In their opening game of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, in the West Indies and the United States of America (USA), Pakistan went on to drop their left-arm opening back, a young Saim Ayub, and decided to go with their experienced duo of captain Babar Azam and wicket-keeper batter Mohammad Rizwan.

Both of these batters have been pillars for the national side in the opening position of the shortest format of the game, but failed collectively in their first game against the USA.

Rizwan could manage only nine runs in his struggling knock that lasted for only eight balls, with the help of one six, while Babar took 43 deliveries to make 44 runs, shouldering on the three boundaries and a couple of sixes, at a strike rate of 102.33. Pakistan couldn’t do anything in the powerplay, and that’s perhaps a reason they could try to look at Saim Ayub at the top.

Saim Ayub’s return would bring Babar Azam back to number 3

The left-handed opening batter, Saim Ayub has been considered to be a huge positive in Pakistan cricket, to offer them an aggressive start in the first six overs of the game. But whenever it comes to playing for the national side, the Karachi boy has failed to make a mark.

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In 19 T20I innings, he has nailed 286 runs at an average of 15.05, and a strike rate of 127.67, with no fifties at his name, and a best score of 49 runs. Since making his debut in the shortest format of the game against Afghanistan in 2023 in Sharjah, Saim Ayub hasn’t been able to cement his place in this format.

His career graph has been quite perpendicular with Rishabh Pant, India’s wicket-keeper batter, who too towards the start of his career, used to play some outstanding knocks, but couldn’t do justice to his incredible ability and talent.

When it comes to his experience, at a very young age, the left-hander has featured in 81 T20 innings for seven different franchises, as he has smashed 2085 runs at an average of 26.39 and a strike rate of 142.22, with 13 half-centuries. He has also had prior experience playing in the Caribbean, where he has been part of the Guyana Amazon Warriors.

What he brings to the table is his free-flowing batting, without any attention, and going after the bowler, which could be a huge boon for Pakistan on a ground like Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, in New York, where surfaces could be juicy and tough to bat on against the new ball.

Also Read: A Minor Adjustment Is Necessary In Saim Ayub’s Technique – Misbah-ul-Haq Highlights Technical Flaw in Pakistan’s Young Opener

If Pakistan eventually decides to open with Saim Ayub, the preferable option to drop from the last playing eleven is the wicketkeeper-batter Azam Khan, who has been struggling for a long time, and bagged a first-ball duck against the USA.

In that case, Babar Azam who has been so successful in the opening spot, will be required to come at number three, while Rizwan will do the keeping job. Babar’s role at number three will change, where he will mostly look to find the gaps, and smash the spinners, while Fakhar Zaman could go bonkers against the attack.

After their heart-breaking defeat in the first game of the tournament in the ‘Super-over’, it will be so vital for Pakistan to make a comeback on June 09 against India, who although are coming on the back of their dominating eight-wicket win over the Ireland team. If Pakistan loses this game, it may end their campaign in the group stage of the competition.