Monday, January 9, 2017

Where does Mohammad Hafeez fit in?

Since the start of 2010, Mohammad Hafeez has been Pakistan's most successful opener in ODIs. He has the most runs, the second best average (after Azhar Ali), and the second most 100s (after Ahmed Shehzad.

Based on this, Hafeez' inclusion in the side is a nobrainer. He should be opening for Pakistan if fit, no question about it.

And if you are going to question his ability outside Asia, then I guess do the same for the rest. Compare him to his peers, not Australians or Indians.

Having said that, Hafeez played only 4 ODIs in all of 2016, a year where Azhar Ali and Sharjeel Khan cemented their positions at the top of the order for Pakistan in ODIs.

Hafeez batted at number 3 in his 4 innings in 2016, something that he has done for some time now, and he has excelled at the position as well. He has been more successful at number 3 than while opening the innings in ODIs.

And in fact, Hafeez has been the most successful number 3 Pakistan has had in ODIs since 2010.

But the problem is, how can he come back into that position given what the fourth name in the above list achieved in the last ODI series Pakistan played.

Babar Azam's 3 consecutive centuries against the West Indies was a tremendous effort and it will be criminal to ask him to bat anywhere else.

So if Hafeez does not fit into the top 3, where does he fit?

With him bowling again his presence will be invaluable to the team, especially in the shorter formats; however the team management will need to rethink their strategy regarding his batting order.

With Azhar, Sharjeel, and Babar occupying the top 3 spots, my bet is that Hafeez will be utilized in the lower middle order. His aggression can be best suited to the latter stages of an innings.

There is no question that Hafeez deserves a place in the ODI squad. The only question is, where will he bat?

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