Hope peeks from behind the black clouds of whitewash

Published: April 23, 2015
Azhar Ali was the most successful batsman of the series for Pakistan. PHOTO: FILE/AFP

Azhar Ali was the most successful batsman of the series for Pakistan. PHOTO: FILE/AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan have lost the ODI series 3-0 to Bangladesh and its high time Pakistan Cricket Board together with the selectors and the team management put to table ideas to avoid such events from happening in the future. But when we see the other side of the story, which in this case is very difficult to comprehend, we come across a number of fascinating revelations.

The headline may sound too optimistic as of now but once you try to forget what happened in the very obvious – the whitewash – you will be able to understand that this series has answered questions for Pakistan which always riddled them into sheer muddle.

Starting with the magician Saeed Ajmal, we all saw what Bangladesh batsmen did to him on a pitch where even the part-time spinners bagged tremendous amount of success. He was hit for 74 and 49 runs in the first two ODIs before being dropped in the third. And all that for what? Just one wicket. We all understand that Saeed Ajmal has been the shining light in the Pakistan squad for the past few years but it is time he realises that his remodelled actions is not effective enough.

Sarfraz Ahmed, the vice-captain of the ODI and T20 team, was also dropped for the third ODI after near to nothing performances in the first two ODIs but Muhammad Rizwan has been one great replacement for him. We understand that Sarfraz is a valuable asset for the Pakistani team but his new replacement the Peshawar Panthers’ wicketkeeper-batsman Rizwan has shown with his confident stroke play that he can be as good a batsman as Pakistan needs in the middle order. Rizwan’s 67 runs on his debut off 58 balls with the help of eight exquisite boundaries brought him into the limelight and a statement was also made for Umar Akmal that if he wants to return, he will need to prove his worth with the willow and not as a part-time keeper in place of Sarfraz.

Fawad Alam, the supposed hero who was left out of the World Cup squad, was a depressing tale of failure in the series but Saad Nasim, who got out for a duck on his debut, proved his mettle in the second ODI with a fighting 77 off 96 balls. He showed that he possesses temperament and skill to perform on the big stage but he needs to polish his talent further.

Meanwhile all Pakistani bowlers were being plundered for heaps of runs, Muhammad Hafeez was cleared by the ICC and was allowed to bowl in the last ODI. He didn’t bag any wickets, but unlike Ajmal, the professor did not lose his charm with the ball. He troubled left-handers Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar on a few occasions. His batting form was all over the place in all three ODIs but with his bowling action remodelled and cleared he might be able to make a strong comeback with the bat as well.

Haris Sohail, meanwhile, has shown time and again why he can become a great player for Pakistan with his technically sound batting but since he was introduced in the series against Australia in the UAE he has made the same mistake over and over again. He is not able to convert his fifties into centuries. In a brief moment of recklessness after he has passed the 40 to 50-run mark he gives away his wicket as sweetly as possible, without making the bowler work for it. If he can work out this fault, Pakistan can rely on him to bat at number four for years to come.

Left-hand opener Sami Aslam, the debutante who scored 45 runs top of the order in the last match seemed to also have given Pakistan hope that their opening spot woes are soon going to end.

And last but the most important of them all, our newly sworn in ODI captain, Azhar Ali has shown that he knows how to handle pressure, rotate the strike and most importantly score centuries for his team.

His predecessor, Misbahul Haq, one of the greatest batsman and captain during his tenure, lacked the last two qualities. Misbah was always criticised for blocking out as many deliveries as possible but Azhar seems to have worked out a plan to score singles and doubles without any hesitance. And his century in the last dead rubber made him the first Pakistani ODI captain after five years to score a century. An accolade Misbah could never abode. Azhar’s effectiveness as a captain and his authority over his subordinates needs to be further tested before declaring a final verdict on him but one thing has been made crystal clear by him through his performances, he won’t leave without a fight.

All in all, Pakistan cricket is going through a bad patch in history but failure never means you cannot achieve greatness; it just means it will be delayed a little. Pakistan have surely started to move forward, it might seems like on the wrong foot, but as we all know the path to success is never meant to be easy.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • effy
    Apr 23, 2015 - 8:04PM

    Make me selector for one day, my team would be Fakhar Zaman, Sami Aslam, Mukhtar Ahmad, M. Rizwan, Umar Akmal, Hammad Azam, Kamran Ghulam, M Nawaz, Wahab Reyaz, M. Amir, Sadaf Hussain. Give me this team and I will beat the any team in the world, its a challenge for PCB selectors.Recommend

  • Lord of the Ring
    Apr 23, 2015 - 9:01PM

    Under Mohsin Hasan Khan’s coaching Pakistani team won all

    3 series hence he was fired form his job

    Under Waqar Yunus coaching Pakistani team loses all

    five series hence he continues with his job

    Rest is traditional humbug we’ve been hearing

    for far too long nowRecommend

  • JD
    Apr 23, 2015 - 10:03PM

    “His predecessor, Misbahul Haq, one of the greatest batsman and captain during his tenure”

    This statement shows the level of understanding Mr. Majid has about cricket.Recommend

  • Burki
    Apr 24, 2015 - 12:10AM

    It’s obvious the author of this article has only cursory knowledge of the game – he’s analyzing and passing judgement about the future of most players based on a mere 3 ODI match series. According to him, Saad Nasim, Sami Aslam and M. Rizwan posses temperament and right technique to hold great potential for the future – wasn’t the same thing said about Sarfraz as well based on just few games? Azhar has shown the ability to handle pressure … how? and that’s based on just 3 ODI matches? And the author thinks the perpetual failure of a batsman i.e Hafeez could still make a strong batting comeback … do you know this pathetic loser has been playing for almost decade now, hasn’t been able to make a “comeback” yet.

    And the most outlandish claim of the author – calling Misbah one of the greatest batsman and captain!! LOL.

    C’mon ET, can’t you find some true sports writer who know their game well to write something credible instead of these childish page fillers?Recommend

  • cheebu
    Apr 24, 2015 - 2:41AM

    And it also shows the level of understanding you have… statistics don’t lieRecommend

  • Amer
    Apr 24, 2015 - 2:45AM

    I think this is a very weak analysis based on only three matches with the same team on the same kind of pitches. Recommend

  • JD
    Apr 24, 2015 - 3:44PM

    Yep, statistics only show the half truth. The other part such as defensive mind set, overflowing negativity, relying completely on spinners to ensure a draw on a spinning track.. statistics won’t tell you that.Recommend

  • Razi Farooq
    Apr 24, 2015 - 4:25PM

    It was disappointing to see how Pakistan batted in the last ODI especially when Sami Aslam and Azhar Ali giftwrapped a great opening stand for the others. The way Hafeez got out showed that he has no batting form at the moment since he was trying to charge the bowler and then comprehensively bowled. It wasn’t like he got out to Narine, Murali or some version of Ajmal, this was some bowler I can’t even think the name of now… Whatever people may say about Misbah, he would have at least taken the score to an above 280+ score.

    All in all, this is a young team, it does need time! I do agree with the writer saying that there was some ray of hope. Currently the team is lacking on field leadership. With no Misbah and Afridi, these boy look like sheeps with no shephard.Recommend

  • Hassan
    Apr 28, 2015 - 11:39AM

    In such times of trouble, i admire the writers approach to look at the glasss half full. The positives you mentioned are a glimmer of hope.. something most of us ignored in the midst of the whitewash. Thank you for an optimistic article… god know we need such optimismRecommend

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