By Zain Abid
Sometimes unprecedented failure can do wonders.
Had Pakistan somehow bowled West Indies out before 170, as they were so close to doing so, and had the batsmen somehow chased down 235 even after losing nine wickets against South Africa, the team would have been in the semi-finals. Regardless of what would have happened after it, the nation would have given the boys a pat on their backs for showing tremendous fight and will power. Thank God that did not happen!
The true state of Pakistan’s batting now lies in front of us as clear as the midsummer sky. Pakistan’s destroyer has been its batting, the failure of which during the Champions Trophy can be branched into three core issues:
The unavailability of good, quality batsmen
Consider this: How many batsmen from the current Pakistan team would make it to the Indian starting 11?
Take our two most relatively successful batsmen. Would they even make the cut? Would you choose Nasir Jamshed over Rohit Sharma or Ravindra Jadeja? Would you choose Misbah-ul-Haq over Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina or MS Dhoni?
I seriously doubt it. It speaks volumes about the batting talent that Pakistan have to offer.
A lot has been said about Kamran Akmal not deserving a place in the batting line-up. The bitter truth is Pakistan does not have a better wicketkeeper-batsman than him. Its supply talent is choked.
The absence of international cricket in Pakistan has hurt its cricket. Slowly, but surely, the galli cricket tradition is also disappearing. It is naive to deny it. Pakistan are just not selecting good enough players anymore. The nation’s domestic cricket is in shambles and its college and school cricket withering.
The Pakistan Cricket Board needs to wake up and smell the coffee.
I do not know what the selectors were thinking while penning the team for the Champions Trophy.
Imran Farhat had a decent series against South Africa, but he failed miserably in the two games against Ireland. What was the need of another opener, who had been tried and tested four times, when we already had Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez and Akmal?
If the selectors wanted to play Akmal down the order and needed another opener, Ahmed Shehzad or Shahzaib Hasan were all reasonably viable options.
Shoaib Malik’s last batting milestone was a century against India in September, 2009. Four years down the line, he has not had a single half-century to his name in the One-Day International (ODI) format. And Pakistan seldom uses him as a bowler. One wonders why he still made the cut.
There was not a single dynamic pinch-hitter in the team. No Hammad Azam, no Shahid Afridi, no Umar Akmal and no Abdul Razzaq. If Afridi, Razzaq and Umar Akmal needed to be dropped, they needed to have been replaced by effective pinch-hitters.
The management absurdly backed the young Umar Amin to bat at No 7, where he isn’t accustomed to, even in First-Class cricket. Amin is a proper top-order batsman, a steady timer of the ball; he is not a big hitter.
Personal performances aside, Misbah has failed to inspire the team. The difference between Pakistan’s approach and that of the Indian team was apparent. The Pakistan batsmen bat to save their wickets, whereas Indian batsmen bat to score runs. Pakistan are batting with the mindset of trying to stay at the crease long enough for the runs to magically come by.
Misbah needs to be more proactive. He needs to be more attacking. He needs to instill confidence in the team. The players need to be attacking, not reckless. There’s a fine line between the two, and playing at the top-most competitive level, you expect the players to realise what that line is.
Totals of 170 runs, 167 runs and 165 runs prove that Pakistan’s batsmen failed to score more than 170 on dry wickets. This is a country that has produced legendary batsmen like Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Saeed Anwar, so one cannot write off Pakistan as a country that only produces fast bowlers and the occasional exceptional spinner.
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