"They are so heavily dependent on Rizwan and Babar that you would want to separate them, I feel, when they bat first," Uthappa said on ESPNcricinfo's T20 Time Out programme after Pakistan went down to India
in the Asia Cup opener.
"You'd want to probably send Fakhar Zaman up and have a left-right batting combination so that the bowlers are bowling different angles, and you have Babar or Rizwan come in at No. 3 so that there is a little more depth and someone can play the sheet anchor role for them and hold one end up while the others revolve around these guys."
Arthur, Pakistan's head coach for just over three years from May 2016, agreed with Uthappa, adding that having Fakhar at the top would force the bowlers to change their angles.
"We used to build as best we can, and that was quite a good recipe for us. The difference between that team and the team now is that in the middle, we had Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik"
Mickey Arthur on the successful Pakistan T20I side from a few years ago
"I think they should [separate Babar and Rizwan]. Fakhar hits the ball in different areas, it frustrates the bowlers a little bit," Arthur said. "It is the different angles, you've got a left-hand and a right-hand. So, spread Babar and Rizwan and you put Fakhar Zaman back at the top."
Pakistan have won 11 out of 14 T20Is
since the start of the 2021 T20 World Cup. But the three games they lost all came while batting first. During the first T20I against India as well, after Pakistan lost Babar and Fakhar inside the powerplay, Rizwan struggled to give the innings momentum in collaboration with the middle order. His strike rate was below 100 for parts of his innings before he was dismissed in the 15th over for a 42-ball 43.
"Pakistan have a template batting second, I don't think they have figured out a template batting first," Uthappa said. "They have a pattern for the first six overs, and after that, they are searching, they are not really sure what they are doing.
"It feels like they are shooting in the dark a little bit and you feel like they haven't really figured out batting first, they haven't really figured that template out. If they figured that out - you saw in the last five overs, they lost five wickets - it would have been a better position for them. They would have read the game a lot better, they would have assessed the wickets quicker and understood a par score that we could defend with our bowling team."
It is no secret that Pakistan are heavily reliant on their top three batters. Before the T20I against India, Rizwan, Babar and Fakhar accounted for nearly 67.5% of Pakistan's runs
since the start of the 2021 T20 World Cup. Teams know that there isn't a lot below those three, even though the middle order has typically scored the few runs they have scored quickly.
"In terms of blueprint, when I was with Pakistan, and we had a more successful time in T20 cricket, we used to set ourselves to get 160 batting first and then rely on our bowlers to squeeze," Arthur said. "We used to build as best we can, and that was quite a good recipe for us. The difference between that team and the team now is that in the middle, we had Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik.
"In the middle now, they are a very young outfit, they don't have much experience, and when you get them three wickets down early, I think they are going to struggle."