Pakistan cricket completes a decade of ineptness

The only time Pakistan won the fifth match of a series in their ODI history was in the 1996 Sahara Cup against India

Emmad Hameed December 20, 2014

KARACHI: Pakistan is tagged the most unpredictable team in world cricket, yet they have an irritating tendency of holding onto some nauseating streaks for a prolonged time. One such streak strengthened further on Friday as Pakistan limped to a 68-run defeat in the ODI series decider against New Zealand.

Other than winning the third game against Zimbabwe last year, the men in green have lost each and every of their three- or five-match series decider in the ODI format since 2004.

More galling is the statistic that the only time Pakistan won the fifth match of a series in their ODI history was in the 1996 Sahara Cup against India, and even then the series was tied 2-2.

The UAE, usually a fortress for the Test team, has taken a complete about-turn in white-ball cricket, especially the 50-overs format. Since 2009, Pakistan have beaten Sri Lanka twice in five-match series there but have lost to New Zealand (twice), South Africa (twice), Australia (twice) and England (once).

With the World Cup now less than two months away, the defeat at the hands of the Black Caps is likely to set the cat among the pigeons. The nucleus of the team for the premier tournament is unfortunately yet to be formed with a number of spots still vacant.

Pakistan’s team management remained reluctant to experiment with the playing eleven despite making loud claims before the series started. And now, the loss of Muhammad Hafeez as a bowler has seemingly jolted the think-tank to the core.

Even in batting friendly conditions, a wafer-thin bowling attack was fielded in all five games and when the crunch time in the battle arrived, the bowlers were exposed in the last two matches played in Abu Dhabi.

Coach Waqar Younis had stressed on adding muscle to the batting line-up. Pakistan started playing the extra batsman since he took over, but the results have dwindled significantly since the change in the plan.

Since the tour of Sri Lanka, Waqar’s charges have lost eight out of their 11 ODIs — the new formula has failed spectacularly. Makeshift captain Shahid Afridi, Waqar and Moin Khan – who all formed the think-tank for the last three games of the series – remained inflexible in their approach.

Former captains like Ramiz Raja and Rashid Latif have time and again trumpeted the call for batting Umar Akmal and Sarfraz Ahmed in the top-order to break the monotony caused by one-dimensional approach of Younus Khan and Asad Shafiq. But Akmal got only two games at number four against Sri Lanka, and wasn’t given a consistent run either against Australia or New Zealand.

Along with Ahmed Shehzad, Akmal remains the most exciting batting talent yet various captains, coaches and selectors have failed to give him a proper run in the top-order.

In 102 ODIs Akmal has batted once at number three and only five times at number four in the batting order. Clearly, the team management is not willing to make the most of his talent and some credible sources within the team indicate that Akmal is being ‘taught a lesson’ for his indiscipline.

No one is sure if the team management is keeping the national interest over and above their personal grudges in Akmal’s case.

The ODI line-up has lost its sting and the bowling department is an apt reflection of the predicament. At present, only Muhammad Irfan looks certain to make the World Cup party. So-called all-rounders Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz and Anwar Ali have all failed to deliver in crucial moments and their inability to close out matches with either bat of ball continues to irk.

The consistent run of Afridi and the emergence of Haris Sohail after some shoddy treatment from the management remained the only plusses against New Zealand.

Younus with one century in the series might have done just enough to sneak through to the World Cup team, but in the overall scheme of things, Pakistan have a lot to ponder in the days ahead and the cluttered mindset of the think-tank must clear up immediately.


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In the name of love (what more) | 8 years ago | Reply

For pitches in aus, pakistan needs stable batmen and not just high flyers like jamshed and umar akmal, or shehzad. Pakistan has a potent bowling attack, which will come handy in Australia. The first game is going to be crucial. If they beat India, they'll go on a wining run, if they cant, it be again a morale dampner. Pakistan a primarily a 'confidence team'. If they are confident and feel good, they'll play well, if they are not happy, they cnt leave that aside and perform on the ground.

Sam | 8 years ago | Reply

I will go with fighting tigers like Fawad Alam over players like Jamshed or Asad Shafiq or Akmals. Last time we won world up in Down under was due to our bowling. Which is no longer bowling sides out in 45 overs so I dontthink there is much chance at all. Just let the youngsters play this one out.

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