In the T20I series in New Zealand, Pakistan have opened with Saim Ayub and Rizwan. The pair has struggled, registering partnerships of 33, 8 and 23 in the three matches so far. The visitors have already lost the five-match series by conceding the first three games by 46, 21 and 45 runs respectively.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Raja lashed out at the current decision makers in Pakistan cricket. Disagreeing with the move to separate Babar and Rizwan as opening pair, he commented, "So much pressure was created to break the opening pair of Babar and Rizwan. After breaking the opening partnership, which was evaluated based on the strike rate.
"When you bring in new players, they may perform well in leagues, but international cricket is a different beast where there is pressure, and the focus of the entire world is on you. You broke the opening pair that was famous worldwide," he added.
"Either you have a workshop of trained openers behind you who are gradually being introduced, when you have no other options. It takes time to form an opening pair. It is not an easy task. So, if you have a pair, and they consistently kept you in the field during matches, what benefit did you get after breaking it?," the former Pakistan captain continued.
Raja went on to add that he backs every Pakistan skipper, being it current T20I captain Shaheen Afridi or all-format leader Babar before him. "The accusation made against me was that I backed Babar Azam. I support every captain because their role is to lead not just on the field during the game, but also extends to off the field as well," the former opening batter said.
Rizwan and Babar hold the record for having scored most runs as a pair in the T20I format. Batting together, they have notched up 2,779 runs at an average of 48.75, with nine century stands and 11 half-century partnerships.
The fourth T20I of the New Zealand vs Pakistan series will be played on Friday, January 19 in Christchurch.
--By A Cricket Correspondent