Yes, Team Pakistan deserved it. With such a shaky middle order, and skipper Babar Azam, the mainstay of the batting lineup, out of form, the Greenshirts were never destined to be crowned as Asian Champions. Had it not been for Muhammad Nawaz’s cameo and Naseem Shah’s miraculous double strike over the robes in the Super Four games against archrival India and inexperienced Afghanistan respectively, Team Pakistan would not have reached the Asia Cup final.
Not a single expert was satisfied with what formed our batting line, the middle order in particular. Players like Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali as well as Fakhar Zaman were total failure. And despite the mentioned players failing to perform, young and promising Haider Ali kept waiting on the bench and was not given a chance even in the unimportant Super Four match against Sri Lanka before the final. Poor fielding too had a major role in the defeat. One must, however, appreciate our bowling line which — despite the absence of Shaheen Shah Afridi — performed exceptionally well.
The selectors — as well as the team management on the tour which failed to make the required changes in the playing eleven — are to blame for the debacle in Dubai. The cricket board must now dissect the performance of each and every player and try new players during the upcoming home series against England — which will feature 7 T20Is and three Test matches — on way to finalising a fighting unit for the ICC T20 World Cup to be played in Australia in October-November.
That Australia is the toughest of the venues for cricket goes without saying. This makes the task of the selectors even more difficult. A lot of hard work needs to be done before Team Pakistan takes the trip Down Under.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2022.
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