Pakistan team manager Intikhab Alam, in his report submitted to the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) Fact-Finding committee, has claimed Shahid Afridi is an ‘absolutely clueless’ captain.
Afridi-led Pakistan side presented a dismal performance in the Asia Cup and the World T20 and Inktikhab thinks the T20I captain was involved in ‘needless controversies’ during the world event.
“These very same reasons continued to be Team Pakistan’s bugbear, but since this was a global tournament with the top-most competing for honours, the magnitude of the stress, and the pressure was even more pronounced,” Intikhab wrote in his five-page report.
“The recent Asia Cup and the ICC World T20 have made it evident that we have critical gaps both in batting and bowling, and our fielding keeps on leaking runs, thus releasing pressure. In bowling, with the exception of Mohammad Amir, we do not have a bowler who can win us matches. Our death bowling also is way below par. And the same goes with our batting line-up, where we do not have reliable pinch hitters and the top and power hitter to clinch us games,” he added.
Intikhab further added: “To cap it all, the tournament was being held in India, where the team was under multiple scanners at the same time, pushing the stress and anxiety levels very high. Much to our chagrin [added to the above reasons], was a captain in his farewell event after a career spanning nearly 20 years, yet absolutely clueless in terms of on-field tactics and off-field leadership.”
Intikhab continued: “We were also set back by two absolutely needless controversies, the first emanating from Afridi’s ‘more-loved-in-India-than-in-Pakistan’ statement in his mandatory on-arrival press conference [had he stuck to the detailed briefing given to him by the Media Manager and myself, this would not have occurred] and Umar Akmal again stealing the limelight in an unseemly manner by seeking Imran Khan’s intervention to fix his batting position at three, when he had done little to inspire confidence at number 4.”
Pakistan team manager wrote in detail about the match against India and the events which transpired into a six-wicket defeat against MS Dhoni’s men.
“On the day, the events also conspired against us,” wrote Intikhab. “For one, the weather didn’t help. On the same square where the Pakistan batsmen gave a command performance against Sri Lanka [the warm-up match] and Bangladesh, the weather suddenly turned from sultry and sunny to wet and unpredictable. Intermittent rain during the night prior to the game, followed by further downpours and overcast skies, meant that the pitch and outfield remained covered for more than 24 hours, changing its character from slow in pace to a spitefully turning and gripping one.”
Intikhab added that Pakistan legend Imran Khan was only good enough to give a pep talk to the team and lacked the ability to understand the post-modern demands of the game.
“To prop up the team’s morale, Shahid Afridi invited Imran Khan (then in India for his own media and other engagements) for a pep talk prior to the game. Imran for his part tried to lift the morale, advising the boys to stay positive till the last ball was bowled, and never allow the possibility of defeat enter their consciousness. It was a pretty decent one as far as pep talks go, but it was evident that Imran – not unlike many outstanding exponents of the game from his time who have not stayed abreast with it – was not too familiar with the demands and tactics employed in this condensed, post-modern format of the game.”
Intikhab further criticised the non-aggressive field placing by Afridi: “I also felt if proper field placing was placed for Shoaib Malik in his initial over it may have given us a breakthrough; it was very surprising to see that in a low-scoring game there was no attacking field-placing. There was no slip; had he employed a slip cordon for Malik, we may have had Yuvraj as two chances from his blade went through.”
“Earlier our batting, too, had left much to be desired. Hafeez was not sent in at number three while Sarfraz too did not get a meaningful strike. These two were our best bets, as they were our prime exponents against spin. The Indian spin attack was not challenged at all by our batting, save Shoaib Malik near the closing stages, resulting in a total that was 20 runs short of the average on the Eden Garden turf.”
The 74-year-old was also highly critical of Umar Akmal’s returns, writing that his figures “are a damning expose [sic] on his game awareness and sense of responsibility” and said that Ahmed Shehzad, who had been recalled shortly before the tournament, was “equally poor.”
Intikhab, at the end of the report, suggested that selection methods should be improved and a comprehensive plan should be carved out at the Board level.
“In my opinion, to alleviate our situation in shorter formats of the game, we have to make a comprehensive plan at the Board level. And this includes improving our selection methods. Pick-up, drop, pick-up routine has not helped us at all, neither has bowing down to player power nor hanging on to the so-called ‘talented mavericks’ who refuse to learn, evolve and deliver,” concluded Intikhab.
The report was published by ESPNcricinfo