Following Pakistan’s 3-1 victory in the One-Day International (ODI) series against the West Indies, the national team put up another winning show and sealed the Twenty20 series that followed 2-0. The fact that the West Indies are currently the Twenty20 world champions, made Pakistan’s display all the more impressive. The series win has also enabled Pakistan to jump to second place in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty20 rankings.
The heartening thing to note about this performance was the display of newcomers such as Zulfiqar Babar and Umar Amin, as well as that of youngsters such as Umar Akmal and Ahmad Shehzad. For too long, Pakistan have been relying on non-performing seniors to win them matches but the West Indies tour has proven, if there was ever any doubt, that the team have the ability to win without the likes of Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal. Also welcome was the performance of experienced hands such as Shahid Afridi and Sohail Tanvir, who proved their pedigree in Twenty20 cricket.
The one worrying aspect was the top order collapses, and in particular, the poor batting form of Mohammad Hafeez. The Twenty20 captain was out cheaply in both matches, and although his contributions with the ball remained crucial, Pakistan need him to perform with the bat. Perhaps, there is a case to be made for Hafeez to drop into the middle order, as of late, he seems to be out of his depth batting in the top three. The series win followed on the heels of disturbing claims made by a British newspaper that the ICC’s anti-corruption unit is investigating suspected wrongdoing that allegedly took place in the third and fifth matches of the ODI series earlier in the tour. While the ICC has still not confirmed these claims, the players must have felt added pressure to perform well in the Twenty20 series. Let us hope that these claims are proved to be unfounded and even if the ICC is investigating the said ODIs, our players are cleared of any wrongdoing.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2013.
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