Hafeez for the World T20: The signs don't look so good

Hafeez's selfish actions leave me wondering if he really was the right choice for leading Pakistan in the World T20.

Nabeel Hashmi September 13, 2012
Pakistan may have won the T20 series against Australia but there are serious concerns about whether or not skipper Mohammad Hafeez can lead from the front in the upcoming World T20 in Sri Lanka.

Brave is the one who puts his hand up when the situation demands, however, that certainly was not the case with the Pakistani skipper as he thrice saved himself from the pressure-cooker situation in the series.

In the second match of three T20 series, the kangaroos needed 10 runs of the final over with Hafeez having an over left of his quota. Instead of becoming the man of the hour, the all-rounder played it safe and selfish by keeping himself out of the limelight.

He was so puzzled under pressure that he first threw the ball in Shoaib Malik’s court – who had not bowled a single over in the innings – but later changed his decision and turned to Abdul Razzaq, who was not asked to bowl in the first match as it was all too easy for Pakistan in that game.

Razzaq did what he does best, using his experience to somehow give Pakistan a chance to win the series by helping them to level the match. Thanks to Pat Cummins, who launched a massive six on the second last ball when seven runs were required and then scooped a lollypop fulltoss to get out in sheer despair.

As the match went in SuperOver eliminator mode, Hafeez held himself back from batting out in the middle and instead gave the names of Umar Akmal, Razzaq and Kamran Akmal.

Though Pakistan won, people should not forget that their side was too lucky on occassion to save themselves from playing in the final. The way Hafeez acted, it showed that he may crumble under pressure and could leave his team exposed in a difficult situation.

It was the same case in the third T20 as well with Pakistan being torn apart by Shane Watson and David Warner in the first ten overs; Hafeez, who often bowls with the new ball or introduces himself before Saeed Ajmal, chose not to imply himself.

What was even more surprising was the fact that he left youngster Raza Hasan at the mercy of the two openers and they pounced onto him. In addition, even Shoaib Malik was asked to bowl and went for plenty.

The so called ‘professor’ needs to understand that this is the game of cricket, where the leader has to possibly fight on all fronts to keep the morale of his charges up. It is not a game of chess where one can sacrifice knights, pawns, bishops, queen to keep the king’s crown intact.

As soon as the brutal 111-run stand was broken by Yasir Arafat, Hafeez came to bowl the next over and ended up with decent figures of conceding 17 runs in three overs which would have not been the case had he come to bowl earlier.

This is something to be worried about and one just cannot neglect such blatant acts of being selfish. These sorts of antics send out a negative signal in the camp; it implies that the leader is a coward and prefers to sacrifice others in difficult situations.

This has left me wondering whether or not Hafeez was the right choice, or for that matter, is the right choice to lead Pakistan in the World T20?

Since childhood, we have been hearing about the heroics of majestic Imran Khan, who used to lead from the front and take responsibility whenever his team was in dire straits. Even the likes of Wasim Akram, Inzamamul Haq and Shahid Afridi were all courageous leaders, but now we have Hafeez.

He has played eight years of international cricket without any decent performances, and is being imposed on Pakistan.

The signs do not look so good, I'm afraid. One cannot expect Hafeez to lead Pakistan to glory unless some outstanding personal performances from the likes of Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal Umar Akmal or Imran Nazir turn the odds.

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Nabeel Hashmi
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