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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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.
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.
I really don't understand why everyone says Fahad can't do well in Australia. Do you all seriously think other players who can't even score in sub continent will do well in Australia? Shame on your judgmental thinking.
CHALLENGE FOR PCB SELECTORS : I have my playing eleven : Fakhar Zaman, Sami Aslam, Babar Azam, Sohaib Maqsood, Harris Sohail, Hammad Azam, Sarfaraz Ahmad, Kamran Ghulam, Raza Hasan, Zia-ul-haq and Ahmad Jamal. (Reserve man : Sadaf and Zafar Gohar ) I challenge the current Pakistan team to play against them. My team will white wash them and any other international team.
Very much agree that Umar Akmal should bat at 3. No place for Fawad Alam since his sort of batting style and stance will only work on sub-continent wickets. He will be failure on Australian tracks. Yasir Shah will be a trump card in the World Cup. My Pak Team for the World Cup: Ahmed Shehzad, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Younis Khan, Misbah ul Haq, Sohaib Maqsood, Haaris Sohail, Shahid Afridi, Anwar Ali, Mohammed Irfan, Yasir Shah, Bilawal Bhatti, Junaid Khan, Umar Gul (if fit) / Ehsan Adil, Saeed Ajmal (if cleared) / Hasan Raza & Mohamed Hafeez (if cleared) / Sami Aslam.
We don't need tried and tested players like Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik. Better give chances to young and energetic players like Sami Aslam and Hasan Raza.
Couldn't agree with you more. MYK and Shafiq are not capable ODI batsmen. Infact they are really selfish. MYK's interview after his hundred in the recent NZ series is a proof of that. He was like " I would have told the management to drop me if I didn't score runs in this match. You LOSER . you LOST the match even after YOUR century. You should have made sure that you won the match for your side . After 75 innings you performed in one inning and that too in a losing cause and you are like you have won the world cup for your side. Shame on such approach. I don't even want to talk about Asad Shafiq. I mean people used to make fun of Imran Farhat for being a parchi. If he was a pachi then this guy is a parcha !!! Akmal , Shahzad, Sohaib , Harris, Sarfraz and Fawad ( in this order) remain to be our most talented players. It is absurd that Akmal is not being sent up the order specially when Sarfraz is in the form of his life. Sarfraz does need to improve considerably with the golves because he is more or less like Kamran Akmal with the gloves but he is a breath of fresh air with the willow so he has to make sure that he improves considerably with the gloves because his batting form will go away after a while and then figures will be pointed at him as well and rightly so because its a sin missing chances for a keeper !!!
Can we pls get fawad Alam back. Why was he dropped after the Australian tour in the first place