Shoaib Malik favours Babar-Rizwan duo as Pakistan's opening pair for T20 World Cup

"Saim Ayub plays with high-risk and this kind of batter has less chances of being consistent," says Malik

Atique ur Rehman
Pakistan wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan (left), skipper Babar Azam (centre) and all-rounder Shoaib Malik. — AFP

Amid an ongoing debate on Pakistan’s opening pair, all-rounder Shoaib Malik recommended bringing back skipper Babar Azam and wicketkeeper-cum-batter Mohammad Rizwan for the role at the forthcoming T20 World Cup 2024.

Pakistan played with Saim Ayub and Mohammad Rizwan in the series against Ireland while skipper Babar Azam played at No 3. Rizwan hit two fifties while Saim Ayub had the highest score of 45.

There are concerns regarding Saim's form as the emerging batter has yet to register a fifty in the T20Is, Many critics have suggested going back to the successful opening pair of Babar and Rizwan.

Meanwhile, the former captain gave his two cents on who should open while talking to the group of reporters at New York's Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, the venue for the T20 World Cup.

"Saim Ayub plays with high-risk and this kind of batter has less chance of being consistent," Malik said.

"If there are high-scoring matches, Pakistan should open with Saim but if the matches are being played at a par score of 160 and 170, Babar-Rizwan should open.

Meanwhile, Malik is confident that Pakistan will finish deep in the tournament.

"The players are in good form as we won the series against Ireland recently. If we manage to beat England in the upcoming T20I series, the confidence would be more high," he added.

It must be noted that Malik was present along with Olympic legend Usain Bolt for the first look of Nassau County International Cricket Stadium.

USA cricketers Corey Anderson and Monank Patel, Sir Curtly Ambrose (West Indies), and Liam Plunkett (England) were also present on this occasion.

New York sports stars which included John Starks (NBA / New York Knicks), Elena Delle Donne (WNBA/USA), Bartolo Colon (MLB/New York Yankees-Mets), Victor Cruz (NFL/New York Giants) and Ibtihaj Muhammad (Fencing/USA) were also part of the special occasion.

The stars all signed a giant cricket bat, which will be present at the venue for all eight ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 matches to be held there between 3-12 June.

The stadium is one of the three venues in the USA, co-hosts alongside the West Indies, for the T20 World Cup.

The Nassau County International Cricket Stadium has a capacity of 34,000. It is the first modular cricket stadium in the world.

The work on the project in Eisenhower Park began in January 2024 and was completed in May.

“Today was a fantastic celebration, showcasing a truly out of this world stadium," said Jones. "Having Usain and a host of New York sports stars and Olympic legends to experience it was fantastic and a fitting welcome to cricket in the USA," T20 USA Inc CEO Brett Jones said.

“Having Curtley Ambrose, Liam Plunkett, Shoaib Malik, Corey Anderson and Monak Patel here and seeing their response to the stadium and the playing surface was also pretty special. It gives us a real sense of what the fans can expect next month.”