On Thursday, Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan became the first batsman to score 1000 T20I runs in a calendar year. Rizwan hit Adam Zampa for a six in the 12th over of the T20 World Cup semifinal against Australia to reach 1000 runs in the shortest format for 2021. Since the start of the year, the opener has hit eleven fifties and a century at an average of 91.55 and a strike rate of 135.9%, including the one against Australia on Thursday.

In the current calendar year, Rizwan’s opening partner Babar Azam (826 from 20 innings) has the second-highest total. Paul Stirling (748 runs in 20 innings) and Kevin O’Brien (729 runs in 23 innings) of Ireland previously held the record for most runs in 2019. In the ICC T20I batting rankings, Rizwan is presently ranked sixth.

With the UAE finally being named as the host of the World Cup, Pakistan, with their experience of playing home internationals and multiple editions of the PSL in the Middle East, realised that the best way to go forward was to revert to a more nuanced strategy, reverting to what worked for them during their successful reign and aligning those with what was kicking for them in the lead-up to the main event. Pakistan has played a type of cricket in the last three weeks that has seen them move to the semifinals as the only unbeaten team in the tournament, which many did not expect at the start of the Super 12.

Pakistan advanced to the semifinals far earlier than any other team, despite being ranked outsiders before the start of the tournament. Pakistan has a chance to make history by becoming the first team to win the event while remaining undefeated throughout the competition. If they succeed, it will be a victory for their think tanks’ hands-on approach and capacity to adjust to changing needs, in contrast to some of the more fancied teams that were eliminated following the Super 12s.