The new comer Ahmad Shehzad has settled down Pakistan's opening partnership for the close to future, but it could be complicated matters for the rest of the batting order. Muhammad Hafeez, the opening partner with Shehzad wins over New Zealand coming into the World Cup. Both players were triumphant in the series, Shehzad notched up a maiden century with his partner also but they did not showed a significant opening partnership in any of five games.
Shehzad turned to spot no 1 caused Kamran Akmal down to one spot to No. 3 in the batting order. But Akmal and Hafeez created a successful partnership in the ODI series against England last September. Hafeez has also been a stabilizing manipulation since his own return to the ODI set-up last summer, averaging 35.73 in 16 ODIs since then, with a hundred and three fifties. He has also turned in useful spells of off-spin, picking up 11 wickets. Hafeez and Shehzad will start as the opening pair but the pushing down of Akmal and the return of Misbah-ul-Haq in a middle order that also includes Younis Khan often resulted in Pakistan not gathering enough momentum in the middle over of an innings.
Pakistan is eager on keeping both Younis and Misbah in their eleven. But batting them at four and five as happened in New Zealand has meant that Umar Akmal, potentially Pakistan's best batsman in the format, has come in with too few over left to have a bang. It is a subject that will require flexibility. Pakistan skipper Afridi said, "If we mislay the first wicket early, then Kamran, who has been an offensive batsman and has opened, comes in so we will have advantage with him and fielders in the circle". "After that it will depend on how many over we have so Umar can come after Younis. We don't want Misbah and Younis batting together so that we can keep impetus and the scoreboard ticking."
Captain told, "I don't believe it's an easier game for us". "The first game is always very significant for us. There are a number of examples where big teams have lost so we want to be at full strength." Afridi acknowledged there was more concentration on off-field issues adjacent the side but maintained that a semi-final place was a sensible target. "I take that as confront that no one is considering us for the semi-final. I want to see my team in the semi-finals."