© Provided by India Today Rohit Sharma to Babar Azam: Captains’ form in spotlight ahead of T20 World Cup semi-finals
Star-studded captains of 16 participating countries met in Melbourne on October 15, 2022, to sound the trumpet for the biggest international tourney in T20I history: ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022. And 23 days after the mega meet-up, after rain playing spoilsport in many matches, the 2022 T20 World Cup finally has its four semi-finals– India, England, New Zealand and Pakistan.
However, except Jos Buttler, all other three semi-finalists have been devoid of power-packed performances from their captains. Rohit Sharma, Babar Azam and Kane Williamson were expected to fire for their teams in the marquee tournament but all three-star batters/captains haven’t quite lit up Australia yet.
Pakistan may have scraped into the semi-finals on the back of South Africa’s shocking defeat vs the Netherlands but they still have a lot to work upon if they want to beat New Zealand and reach their third final of the T20 World Cup. Captain and star batter Babar Azam’s form is the biggest concern of them all.
With only 39 runs in five innings at a shambolic strike rate of 61.90, including a duck and three single-digit scores, Babar’s performance in the T20 World Cup 2022 represents a low point in his struggles since the Asia Cup in September. Babar, who is known for his batting prowess and was ranked the top T20I batter sometime back, has hit just four boundaries in the six Super 12 matches.
A duck against arch-rivals India in Pakistan’s tournament opener was just the start of Babar’s horror run in the Super 12 stage as he then returned with two 4s vs Netherlands and Zimbabwe, before scoring six off 15 deliveries vs South Africa. His highest score and first two-digit score in the ongoing tournament came in the next must-win match against Bangladesh, where he managed to score 25 off 33 deliveries.
A tally of 89 runs at an underwhelming average of 17.80 and a strike rate of 109.87 don’t do justice to Rohit Sharma’s prowess as a T20I batter. Captain Rohit Sharma has excelled at all hurdles, having India led to the knockouts, but the batter Rohit is yet to turn up in the ICC tournament.
Despite scoring a fifty against the Netherlands, the Indian captain has struggled against higher-ranked teams. The right-handed batter began the tournament with a single-figure score against Pakistan, then went on to score 15 runs against South Africa and Zimbabwe, and two runs against Bangladesh.
If we take a look at his dismissals in all Super 12 matches, one thing is evident, that Rohit’s desire to lead in implementing India’s new model of free-flowing batting during Powerplay has not helped him and his form. Rohit’s favourite shot is the pull shot but, ironically, three of his five dismissals on the big Australian grounds have been on the pull.
Rohit’s commitment to his craft would indicate that a match-defining innings isn’t too far away, but this deep into the tournament with a maximum of two innings ahead of him, he doesn’t have the luxury of time anymore to play himself into the competition.
New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, the captain, has been outstanding for his side in the ICC T20 World Cup 2022. However, his batting form has been a source of much speculation, given that the skipper has had a string of slow outings. The batter had scored 71 runs in three innings against Australia, Sri Lanka, and England. However, it looked like he was returning to form when he scored 61 off 35 balls.
Williamson may have scored well against Ireland, but he will need to find the form, stroke play, and calculated aggression to anchor his side against a top-tier Pakistan bowling attack. If his 48-ball 85 against Australia in last year’s World Cup final, albeit in a losing cause, is any indication, he’ll be more than capable.
Barring the 73 not out against New Zealand in the must-win Super 12 match, England captain Jos Buttler has not been able to live up to his reputation as a fearsome T20 batter. Before and after this knock, Buttler failed to return with big scores in the rest of the matches where his scores read 0, 18 and 23.
More often than not, Buttler has struggled to get going despite having an able opening partner in the form of Alex Hales. Now, with the mega-clash against India in sight, Buttler has been seen batting at the nets during the practice session to improve his form. Buttler was seen improving his drives during practice, and his form is critical for the English team if they want to return home with the T20 World Cup 2022 title.
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