PAK vs NZ: Ramiz lauds Iftikhar but baffled by Ihsanullah’s exclusion

Ahmed scored 60 runs in 24 balls during the third T20I on Monday

By Web Desk
April 18, 2023
Ramiz Raja speaks during a press conference — AFP

Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja lauded middle-order batter Iftikhar Ahmed after the latter played a scintillating knock in the third T20I against New Zealand on Monday in Lahore.

Ahmed brought Pakistan back into the contest from 88-7 with a whirlwind 24-ball 60 as they attempted to chase down New Zealand´s 163-5.

“This match once again reinforced the fact that sometimes you can’t assess whether a player is talented enough to play for your country and win you matches. But today Iftikhar showed us that he has the talent and potential along with the ability to stay calm under pressure,” Raja said while speaking on his official YouTube channel.

“When he [Iftikhar] came in to bat, the match was out of Pakistan’s reach. In such a situation, players become desperate and start slogging. However, he played proper cricketing shots and almost got Pakistan over the line. This match showed Pakistan the value of Iftikhar,” he added.

Raja was also baffled by the exclusion of pacer Ihsanullah from the Pakistan lineup. The speedster made his debut during the Afghanistan T20I series in Sharjah recently but has not got a chance to feature in the ongoing matches against New Zealand.

"I fail to understand the logic in keeping Ihsanullah out the lineup and pushing him so far back that he may not even get a chance to play. He possesses a talent that's visible to all and I believe he should be given a fair opportunity to showcase his skills,” he said.

The victory means New Zealand trail the five-match series 2-1 after Pakistan won the first two games, by 88 and 38 runs, also in Lahore.

The last two matches are in Rawalpindi on April 20 and 24.

Eight Kiwis are missing because of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and skipper Kane Williamson has a bad knee injury, leaving the captaincy to batsman Tom Latham — and providing plenty of opportunity for newcomers to shine.

Pakistan and New Zealand will also meet in five one-day internationals after the five-match T20 series, honing preparations for this year´s 50-over World Cup in India.

The tour comes as something of compensation for New Zealand pulling out of their visit to Pakistan on the day of the first game in September 2021, citing security concerns.

The Black Caps played two Tests and three ODIs in Pakistan just three months ago.