Two months into drumming up the ‘rebuilding’ hyperbole, the Pakistan selectors are seemingly unsure about how they are going about the task.
After the wretched performances in Bangladesh, the two-match T20 series win — albeit much nervier than expected — gave them a platform to build from, but merely minutes after the second game ended, the selectors announced a largely unsettled ODI team for the second part of the Zimbabwe tour.
Mukhtar Ahmed, the success story of the T20s, was inexplicably forgotten despite the urgent need of the induction of a hard-hitting batsman at the top of the innings. The selection panel also sidelined Sami Aslam who scored a 50-ball 45 in his maiden ODI appearance last month.
The most alarming omission is that of middle-order batsman and part time leg-spin bowler Saad Nasim, who scored a valiant unbeaten 77 when the chips were down against Bangladesh in only his second-ever game.
Nasim was left-out of the lone T20 against Bangladesh that followed the ODI series as well as the Zimbabwe T20 games; so far there hasn’t been any explanation for the slapdash treatment meted out to the promising 25-year old.
It is one thing blooding youngsters and another thing — a quite ludicrous one at that — to play them for a game or two before aimlessly binning them.
Since the World Cup alone, the newly installed selection panel has distributed caps to Aslam, Nasim, Muhammad Rizwan, Mukhtar, Nauman Anwar and Imad Wasim. Within 60 days of their endeavours, Nasim and Aslam have already been sidelined for no apparent reason.
Seasoned swing bowler Sohail Tanvir was sent packing from the T20 squad despite an impressive opening spell in the crushing defeat to Bangladesh. Sohail must be ruing the ordinary umpiring skills in the game that cost him at least one certain lbw victim.
The left-armer remained the most economical bowler in the Mirpur drubbing but somehow the selectors cited his ‘lack of fitness’ as the justification for his omission. The ‘unfit’ bowler is currently gearing up for the T20 Blast in England, from there he would be lining up for a third successive stint at the Caribbean Premier League.
On the other hand, ‘all-rounder’ Anwar Ali has been retained for the ODIs despite a quite lacklustre showing in the T20s. Anwar has struggled in establishing his credentials in either the T20 or ODI format and finds himself in an increasingly tight spot.
Meanwhile, the seasoned duo of Muhammad Sami and Shoaib Malik have been given another run; primarily due to the paucity of quality replacements. However, if the selectors fail to give extended runs to newcomers, Pakistan might be forced to bring more veterans from the depths of obscurity back in the fold.
More food for thought comes from Nasim and Aslam cooling their heels while Muhammad Hafeez keeps his place in the ODI squad despite managing just eight runs in three games against Bangladesh.