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Pakistan were struggling for a start at the top of the order. No opening combination in the last four years had given them a century stand. Their openers had struggled to score runs at the start of the innings which added the pressure on the middle and lower-middle order. If it were in a chase, the pressure increased.
In the Champions Trophy, Pakistan once again struggled with the opening partnership. They could add only 47 runs against India in the first game. But, then Pakistan included the aggressive opener Fakhar Zaman and their fortunes changed. It won’t be an exaggeration that he has been one of the main reasons for Pakistan’s success in this tournament.
Born in the Mardan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Fakhar joined Pakistan Navy at the age of 16 but after one year at the Karachi’s Pakistan Navy School Bahadur, he submitted himself to professional cricket. And, here he is, part of the Pakistan squad in England.
Fakhar’s first glimpse of aggression were seen in the Pakistan Cup 2016 where he was the highest run-getter. In the ongoing Quaid-E-Azam Trophy, he has already scored 650 runs at an average of 54.16.
At the international front, Fakhar impressed everyone with his strokeplay in the warm-up game against Bangladesh where he came down the order and helped Pakistan chase down 330. In his first game against South Africa, he scored 37 runs but his strike rate was over 100 which helped his team to be ahead of the par score.
Then came the two knocks, both fifties. The first was against Sri Lanka where he scored 51 runs and had given full control to Pakistan in chase. But, a late batting collapse saw Pakistan struggle in the chase. Eventually, Sarfraz’s unbeaten half-century led Pakistan into the semi-finals.
Once again, Fakhar showed his might in the semis. Chasing a modest target of 212, he did not take any pressure and played freely for his 57. He was eventually stumped but not before adding 118 runs with Azhar Ali. That put Pakistan in complete control.
Fakhar can once again be the hero for Pakistan. He will be playing his biggest game till now. Pakistan, once again, will be banking on him to come good.