Team Green: Consistently losing
I fear our team is becoming used to losing T20s. This was supposed to be our format!
For years Pakistani cricket fans have been asking for a bit of consistency. Well, they say to be careful what you wish for because we finally have got some! Sadly, it's not the kind of consistency we wanted. After Wednesday's T20 loss to South Africa, we have now lost four consecutive T20 matches. But the true measure of our consistency comes from the details of the results.
Our last four T20 match (2 against South Africa, and 2 against England) results read like this:
loss by 6 wickets
loss by 6 wickets
loss by 6 wickets
loss by 5 wickets
There was a time when if we batted first and put runs on the board, we would almost certainly win the match. But that was the time when we actually put runs on the board.
The last four attempts by our batting line up are 120, 119, 89 and 126. In all four matches our first wicket fell in the second over of the match. (However my inner-optimist points to the fact that in the last three matches we did at least win the toss.)
The habit of losing
The real fear I have is, that we are getting into a habit of losing T20s now and that is scary. Because it is really hard to get out of such a habit and mental strength has certainly never been one of our strong points. This was our format; we were the best team in the world, now we have dropped to second. This needs to be addressed and fast.
The biggest hope for our T20 side are the up coming matches with Bangladesh and New Zealand. The T20s against them are our perfect chance to get back to winning ways.
Keeping our extremely consistent batting line up and questionable mental strength in mind I would like to humbly purpose a few things.
1. PCB please gets a good sports psychologist before our team falls into a state of learnt helplessness. Shoaib Malik in the after math of our T20 world cup victory claimed that the team was helped by a psychologist. It worked then, it should now. The psychologist should be attached with the team all the time not just after we have devastating defeats.
2. Imran Farhat should be dropped. He has a T20 internationals average of 8.20, with a highest score of 14. Has never hit a six in T20 internationals, has managed 7 fours only and has a strike rate of 91.11 only (please keep in mind he plays during the power play overs). So I wonder how the hell he gets selected, oh yeah I remember.
3. Keep Zulqurnain Haider as the wicket keeper; bring in Kamran Akmal as an opening batsman. Zulqurnain brings a calming yet hyper presence behind the stumps. Calming because we are more confident in his ability to catch sitters and hyper because he keeps hopping around behind the stumps. The way he went ballistic after stumping Smith, I am sure any third umpire would have given the benefit of the doubt to Zulqurnain. However we require Kamran Akmal's explosive batting up front. The only issue is can Kami swallow his pride and accept this. I hope the selectors have the guts to stand firm and force him to. After all in the days gone by their have been instances when Rashid Latif was the wicket keeper and Moin Khan was played as a specialist batsman.
4. Settle down. They say behind every successful man there is a woman, well behind every successful batting performance there is a partner. Shahid Afridi really needs one right now. Currently in our batting line up, Umer Akmal and Razzaq are too unpredictable and can loose their wicket at any time putting pressure on Afridi.
While Misbah just takes too long to get started and invariably makes the run rate drop for a bit again putting pressure on Shahid Afridi. Rewind to those glorious days in the summers of 2009 in England when we won the world cup. In both of Afridi?s match winning batting performances; he had time to settle in because he had a reliable batting partner. Shoaib Malik, on the other hand, would just stay there with Afridi and rotate the strike, taking pressure off him and letting him settle. He would come in before Afrdi, but not loose his wicket until Afrdi himself got out. He scored 34 runs off 39 balls against South Africa and 24 off 22 balls in the final against Sri Lanka.
Shoaib Malik may have gone unnoticed by most fans caught in the spell of Afridi's magic, but Afridi in all his well publicized hugs and kisses to Shoaib Malik was actually telling him, "Shoaib you complete me." Now I am not necessarily saying bring Shoaib Malik back, but our selectors need to find Afridi a batting partner who will bring out the best in Afridi.
Finally, before I finish writing this, I would like to express my condolences and sympathy to our amazing but overworked bowling attack. Thank you for giving us hope in matches where there should be none.