T20 World Cup New Zealand vs Pakistan: Matthew Hayden backs Pakistan captain Babar Azam to fire in semis | Cricket News


SYDNEY: Pakistan mentor Matthew Hayden is backing the struggling captain Babar Azam to produce something special in the knockout stages of the 20-20 World Cup, which begins in Wednesday’s semi-final against New Zealand.
Opener Babar put together his first innings against Bangladesh in their final group match on Sunday as Pakistan scraped into the semi-finals thanks to Netherlands’ upset of South Africa.
The 25 runs Babar scored at Adelaide Oval came after just 14 over his previous four matches at the tournament and former Australian opener Hayden thought an even bigger innings was on the cards on Wednesday.
“Don’t be at all surprised if you see fireworks because a lot of special players don’t stay still very often,” Hayden told reporters.
“Babar has been under some adversity but that will only make him a bigger player…you can’t keep knocking out hundreds and fifties and strike rates of 140 plus, there has to be a lull.
“Like with the weather, when there’s a lull, there’s often a storm that follows. So look out for the rest of the world, because I think you’re going to see something very special.”
With Babar and his long-time opening partner Mohammad Rizwan Hayden, both struggling for runs, said he was impressed with the way Pakistan’s middle order stood up.
He particularly picked Mohammad Haris, who came into the Pakistan team as a middle of the tournament injury replacement and scored 59 runs in two innings.
“One of the things about this kind of tournament is that almost the whole cricket community is tired to some degree,” Hayden added.
“So to have a young, fresh face with nothing to lose, nothing to gain, but just to play with great freedom was a great expression for him personally, but also for team Pakistan.”
Hayden thought the added prospect of pacers Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Wasim and Haris Rauf firing at the Sydney Cricket Ground gave Pakistan every chance of reaching the final despite their poor start to the tournament.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride but I wouldn’t have it any other way because the last World Cup we went undefeated into the semi-finals and Australia beat us,” Hayden said.
“I really believe we haven’t played our best game yet, which is a big threat to oppositions.
“The way the middle order came to the plate was excellent and those fast bowlers, man, there are four of them and they come at a great rate.”


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