Mohammad Rizwan, the current world’s best-ranked T20I batsman, and Babar Azam, who is number three on the ICC rankings are a major force behind Pakistan’s success in the shortest format. Babar has been a consistent performer for Pakistan Cricket Team across the formats since his debut. Whereas Rizwan found his mojo upon his comeback to the team as the T20I opener. Both the openers have delivered an umpteen number of times and while, there was a noise for a while on their strike rates, their batting has won them several matches in the last two years. Let us try to analyze their batting styles in detail.
What are their odds against various bowlers?
In these two distributions above, we notice how the two Pakistani openers have fared against the bowlers worldwide. It can clearly be seen how both the bowlers love to strike against pace. While we see Babar struggling a bit against the leg spinners such as Adil Rashid, Adam Zampa, Ish Sodhi, Rizwan plays them in a better way. The wicketkeeping batter’s weak point, if we can pick any from this distribution is the left-armers, e.g. Mitchell Starc, Reece Topley, Ravindra Jadeja, etc.
How do they play with each other?
While we analyzed the individual performances of the skipper and his batting supporter in the previous section, let us now understand how they bat together.
We can observe a similar pattern over here. While Babar doesn’t seem to take chances against the leg spinners, such as Adil Rashid or Adam Zampa, Rizwan is a bit underwhelming against the left-arm bowlers Mitchell Starc, Reece Topley, Ashton Agar, Ravindra Jadeja, George Linde, etc. However, Babar’s strike rate against most of these bowlers is above average. This tells us how well both these batsmen understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and complement each other.
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Do they really play slow?
A short and crisp answer should be NO. Below is a correlation diagram between the runs scored in a match, strike rate, dot ball percentage, and boundary percentage for both of these batsmen.
While the dot ball percentage for both Babar and Rizwan is concentrated around 30-40 % ( slightly lower in Babar’s case), they both have a good boundary percentage of around 50-60 % on average. This tells us that even if they start slow, they are able to compensate for that with boundaries. Another thing to note here is how the number of runs is more or less directly proportional to their strike rates. So, the more they bat, the more they score runs and at a higher strike rate.
To conclude, both Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan are absolute match-winners and a major reason for their success is how well they understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and complement that with their own performance. They both understand their limitations and play accordingly without listening to the noise around them. And once again the opening partnership for Pakistan will be a key for their performance against the arch-rivals India in their much anticipated first game of the T20 World Cup 2022 at Melbourne.
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