Pakistan were dealt a massive blow when their captain Misbahul Haq was ruled out of the first Test against Sri Lanka that starts on June 22 in Galle after he was suspended for a ‘serious over-rate offence’ during the final One-Day International (ODI).
This was Misbah’s second offence of the year, resulting in the suspension. Pakistan, who played three seamers in the fifth ODI, were found to be three overs short of their target after time allowances were taken into consideration.
Coaching panel needs time
This was not the only worry that the team management had on its mind.
A disastrous ODI series saw the tourists go down 3-1, including two defeats that should have gone Pakistan’s way. A 4-0 loss to England was followed by the Asia Cup triumph but inconsistency resulted in another series-loss, exposing the batting line-up and asking questions of the new coaching panel – it has been over three months since Dav Whatmore and Julien Fountain were appointed.
A team official, besides former players, pointed out the same flaws for defeat that have been the team’s shortcomings in the past.
Players showed lack of professionalism: Manager
The defeat also prompted an otherwise calm team manager Naved Akram Cheema to criticise the players.
“The professional approach in players was missing,” Cheema told The Express Tribune from Colombo. “We made mistakes in all departments.”
Cheema, however, defended team selection in the final ODI — most notable being the exclusion of Saeed Ajmal.
Team selection ‘upsets’ Mohsin
Meanwhile, former coach Mohsin Khan said that poor selection and decisions hurt the team’s causes.
“We needed Shoaib Malik and Hammad Azam in the ODI squad. Sohail Tanvir performed well but we should’ve included an opener to replace Nasir Jamshed. With Azhar Ali opening, we disturbed the whole batting order. Demoting Younus Khan was not understandable. You cannot disturb a senior player of his calibre.
“Then the decision to drop Ajmal on a dry pitch was beyond my understanding. Injustice was also done to Mohammad Sami as the management shattered his confidence by dropping him despite a brilliant comeback.”
Sohail assails fielding coach
Meanwhile, former captain Aamir Sohail criticised Fountain for not bringing improvement in the fielding department.
“Our fielding has gone from bad to worse,” said Sohail. “The coaches are not bringing improvement. Instead of paying hefty amounts to foreign coaches, the board should hire people at grass-root level to train the players.”
Former chief selector Mohammad Illyas remained optimistic despite the defeat.
“Winning and losing is part of the game,” said Illyas. “Although we made mistakes, we should hope that the team comes back stronger in Tests.”
A tally of 57 and a strike-rate of less than 53 are not figures that should be associated with any opener. While his six wickets meant his utility as a spinner was not undermined, Hafeez’s batting has seen a decline in the recent past.
Questions were being asked about Younus’ poor form before a quick-fire half-century in the Asia Cup. He was at his worst against Sri Lanka, scoring 10 runs in three innings before being duly dumped for the final ODI.
A poor show in the first T20 was followed by his omission from the second. A three-wicket haul in the opening ODI signalled Gul’s return. But the form did not last long and he just took one wicket in the remaining games.
For all his flamboyance and charisma, Afridi failed to deliver after the second Twenty20. A total of 28 runs at 9.33, including a soft dismissal at a crucial juncture in the fourth ODI, and a return of just three wickets did not sit well with fans.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2012.