Trying to glean too much from a three-match One-Day International (ODI) series would be unwise, especially since Pakistan lost the close contest by only a 2-1 margin. But with the World Twenty20 just a couple of weeks away, all Pakistani cricket fans are justifiably eager to analyse the minutiae of this series as many of the players in the ODI team are also part of the Twenty20 squad. Ultimately, we learned little that was new and ended up only amplifying our few good and many negative traits. First, the good news: Saeed Ajmal is undoubtedly the finest spin bowler in the world, despite the International Cricket Council’s inexplicable decision to leave him out of its shortlist for the best cricketers of the year. Without Ajmal, we would have probably lost the one match we won and would have suffered heavier defeats than we did in the remaining matches. The other positives are the return to form with the bat of Mohammed Hafeez and the great promise that opener Nasir Jamshed showed.
The rest of the news is not as good. Misbahul Haq’s captaincy in ODIs this year has left a lot to be desired, this being the third consecutive series defeat of 2012. There is some justification for critics calling for his dignified exit from this format. The same, too, can be said for Shahid Afridi who is showing fewer glimpses of his match-winning performances. There are also justified question marks on the inclusion of wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal in the team as he continued to display his propensity to fluff simple chances. Meanwhile, his brother Umar, who is blessed with tons of talent, seems interested only in squandering it. Traditional Pakistani strengths like fast bowling are now missing, while traditional weaknesses like shoddy fielding still remain. It is hoped that the team will give a better show in the Twenty20 series against Australia and use it to iron out its weaknesses before the WorldTwenty20. It has the talent to win that event, but it needs to instill some level of discipline in its performance for that to happen.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2012.
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