Harsha Bhogle dissects Pakistan's T20 ascension, subsequent fall from grace

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Pakistan were the number one-ranked T20I side in the world under Sarfaraz Ahmed but a horror 2019 saw them slip to fourth.

Indian cricket pundit Harsha Bhogle has dissected the Pakistan cricket team's fall from grace in T20I format, analysing why they soared to number one and reigned supreme for more than two years and why they have now slipped to fourth.

Bhogle, usually one of the sanest voices in world cricket, for once appeared to hold back a little when discussing Pakistan's rise to number one position under former skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed, suggesting that the Men in Green were beneficiaries of weaker competition.

"Pakistan spent a lot of time being the world number one in Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is). They were helped by the fact that they played against some not so great opposition, but you can’t hold that against them. They won 11 series in a row," he said on ICC show Cricket Inside Out.

"They had some really good players coming through. There was Fakhar Zaman at the top of the order and their core was in that middle-order, where they got eight overs some days between Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim and both of them could bat too. Plus, Shadab is a brilliant fielder, so there was a nice little side coming together."

READ: Young Babar Azam's strike rate was detrimental to Pakistan's cause, says Harsha Bhogle

Bhogle then shed light on all that has gone wrong since, especially during 2019 when they won just once T20I of 10 played.

"That 170 kind of T20 game has started to trouble them. They are not chasing 170 runs and are not able to defend 170. They have lost some series in recent times. Fakhar Zaman is out of form. Shadab is batting more in PSL than he is bowling. His economy rate has gone through the roof for a leggie. Imad Wasim is not quite the bowler he was. Fast-bowlers are coming and going and there is too much turmoil in that side," he said.

The need of the Pakistan side, as per Bhogle, is to cut reliance over Babar Azam and veteran players and instead develop new hard-hitters lower down the order.

"What they need is a dominant figure in that top-order. They want Babar Azam to be that player, but once Babar Azam is gone, they are still playing [Mohammad] Hafeez and Shoaib Malik and relying on them to come good. I think they need younger players, who can start playing 170-180 run games. They need players like Abid Ali and Asif Ali to come and get them big runs," he said.

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Harsha Bhogle dissects Pakistan's T20 ascension, subsequent fall from grace