The question of why Pakistan was unable to make it to the semi-finals of the ongoing 50-over World Cup, even after being level on points with the four-placed New Zealand, has opened up a new debate, and the cricket fans from the country are not in favour of the formula of the net run-rate.
The fans, however, are not alone. Cricket pundits also believe that Pakistan, who seemed to have gained momentum at the latter part of the league matches with four consecutive victories, should be vying for the silverware and not New Zealand, who lost their last three matches but still made it into the top-four.
Pakistan opened their World Cup campaign with an unbelievably below-par performance against West Indies which eventually resulted in their ouster from the World Cup. They were never able to recover their run-rate even after beating some of the favourites such as the top ODI team England, and before facing Pakistan, the unbeaten New Zealand team.
Some might say the washout against Sri Lanka was also one of the reasons why Pakistan were not able to make it to the top-four. An extra point from the underwhelming Sri Lanka could have saved their campaign.
However, after all is said and done, most of the blame of the exit from the World Cup lies on the players and the team management.
From day one, the players and the team knew that the new format will not be easy. They will have to perform against the top teams and the minnow with equal consistency. The start to the World Cup, where Pakistan were able to score only 106 before losing all 10 wickets showed how unprepared and under confident Pakistan were, when they entered the tournament.
A series defeat to England in England before the tournament was said to help the players acclimatise well to the conditions, but the loss of confidence wasn’t considered which hurt Pakistan badly at the start of the World Cup.
Also, rain was always going to spoil the party so Pakistan should’ve been prepared to win at all costs all the matches that they would be given a chance to play.
Moreover, the age-old problem of Pakistan avoiding risks and trying to shoot down oppositions with blanks hurt them against India and Australia, two matches which Pakistan could’ve won easily, only if they could muster up the courage to take risks with their starting line-ups.
A total of two changes in the line-up did wonders for the Men in Green when the underperforming Shoaib Malik and Hasan Ali were replaced with Haris Sohail and Shaheen Shah Afridi, respectively.
Even if Shaheen would’ve misfired, which he didn’t, Pakistan always had the option to go for the raw pace of Muhammad Husnain, but the surprise package promised by chief selector Inzamamul Haq stayed safely packed and unused.
Pakistan cricket is a story of inconsistency yet surprises, a tale where some day they are David and the other days they are the falling goliaths, it is a saga where the unbelievable becomes believable and vice versa.
The Pakistan Cricket Board is being overlooked by one of the best cricketers of his generation, the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the 1992 World Cup-winning Men in Green captain Imran Khan. It is high time that he pulls the country that he is running and the cricket team which wears the country’s flag out of plight and guides it towards consistency and prosperity.