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.