Pakistan cricket team had a miserable run in the recently-concluded ODI series against Australia. They were outplayed in all departments of the game as Australia completed a clean sweep of the series. The 5-0 drubbing has dampened the spirits of the cricket-crazy Pakistani nation that was expecting a successful run-up to the World Cup.
The loss, however, should not raise the alarm level. The national team had rested its key players who will be donning the green shirts in the World Cup. The loss against the Australians in the UAE can then be traced to the absence of Pakistan’s star players. Also, the Pakistan players have had a hectic schedule in recent days. This period of rest can help fend off injuries and rejuvenate the players before the mega event. Besides, most of the players who have been finalised for the World Cup were not a part of this campaign and hence will not be demoralised. This series defeat, therefore, is unlikely to have far-reaching consequences.
The key players have been kept safe from injuries in the process as well. An injury this close to a World Cup for a major player, would have a devastating impact on Pakistan’s World Cup chances. The series itself was downplayed by the stand-in skipper, Shoaib Malik, who believed the series was a platform for Pakistan to assess their bench strength which would play a crucial role in finalising the World Cup squad.
True that the Pakistan team used this series to experiment and its implications on the World Cup are minimal, but a whitewash is not something that can be justified completely. The debacle in the UAE has ended up in lessons for cricket controllers in the country, and they must learn from them as part of preparations for the World Cup that is all set to burst into action on May 30.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2019.
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