Fakhar Zaman could pay price for poor form as Pakistan face Sri Lanka in Cricket World Cup

Batsman facing the axe after run of low scores continued against Netherlands

Pakistan's Fakhar Zaman plays a shot during the World Cup match against the Netherlands in Hyderabad. AP
Powered by automated translation

Pakistan head coach Grant Bradburn insists his team's top-order batting is not a worry but that confidence may not spare Fakhar Zaman, the only man to have scored an ODI double hundred for his country.

Pakistan's openers have endured a miserable last five matches with just 35 as their highest partnership.

There has only been one century stand in the 16 games this year.

Left-hander Fakhar managed just 12 runs in a partnership of 15 with Imam-ul-Haq in Pakistan's 81-run win in their World Cup opener against the Netherlands in Hyderabad on Friday.

Fakhar, who famously smashed 210 not out against Zimbabwe in 2018, has a best of just 33 in his last 11 innings, a desperate run which followed three successive centuries against New Zealand earlier this year.

For Tuesday's game with Sri Lanka, Fakhar is likely to make way for Abdullah Shafique who hit a half-century when the sides last met at the Asia Cup in September. Sri Lanka won that game by two wickets.

Bradburn still hopes the top-order clicks sooner rather than later.

"Look, we've got full faith in our top order," said New Zealander Bradburn.

"They will click at some stage and we're open and honest to say that we're not getting what we would like out of the powerplay as yet."

Number three and skipper Babar Azam, the world's top-ranked ODI batsman, also failed against the Netherlands with an 18-ball five.

"The top three have scored the majority of our runs in the period before the World Cup," said Bradburn who praised Sri Lanka.

"Sri Lanka are a team that we've become familiar with over recent times and we know they have had the upper hand on us over the last year in white-ball cricket," said Bradburn.

"We respect the skills that Sri Lanka possess and we're really looking forward to taking them on tomorrow."

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan batting coach Naveed Nawaz urged his bowlers to remain positive despite conceding a record World Cup total of 428 against South Africa in their first match.

"It's going to be batting-friendly pitches mostly so we've got to look at the execution in the game against South Africa and how we could have done better," said Nawaz.

"The guys who got runs, especially Kusal (Mendis), Charith (Asalanka), maybe Dasun (Shanaka), had they gone for a little bit longer, maybe another extra 30, 40 runs by each one of them, that could have got us close."

Mendis cracked eight sixes in his 76 while Asalanka scored 79 and skipper Shanaka 68 as Sri Lanka managed a fighting reply of 326.

"I think Pakistan is quite a strong opposition," said Nawaz.

"We have been playing Pakistan recently, so both teams know quite well about each team's strengths, weaknesses."

Updated: October 09, 2023, 4:45 PM