Pakistan have a tough road ahead © AFP
Pakistan have a tough road ahead © AFP

With their brawny batsmen belittled and the bowling firepower doused with clever batting, the Pakistani team head into an uncertain future, with the pressure of doing well in the ICC World T20 2016 tournament playing on their nerves. Pakistan have been kicked out of the Asia Cup 2016 tournament for being mediocre, and the road ahead will get tougher with far greater challenges impending for Shahid Afridi and company. The defeat to Bangladesh in the Asia Cup T20 2016 tournament can be the start of Pakistan’s rise, but only if they want it.  FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Bangladesh vs Pakistan, Asia Cup T20 2016, Match 8 at Dhaka

Whether Afridi is the right man to lead Pakistan is a big question at present, and for someone as astute and hard-nosed as Javed Miandad, he lost the qualities to continue playing international cricket years ago. Afridi has made up his mind to retire from Twenty20 cricket after the ICC World T20 2016 in India, and for more than one reason the decision seems delayed.

There is a clear absence of leadership in Pakistan cricket team as far as T20 cricket is concerned. Following their embarrassing defeat to Bangladesh, the coach Waqar Younis went on to the extent of admitting that he was not aware of the reason why Khurram Manzoor was picked ahead of many deserving players. Certainly, the scores of 1, 0 and 10 can invite the wrath of any good coach, but whether Waqar showed his frailty by admitting no involvement in Manzoor’s selection is a sign of a divided house. ALSO READ – Bangladesh vs Pakistan 2016, Asia Cup 2016: Shahid Afridi’s record of ducks, Pakistan’s lowest scores and other statistical highlights

There have been occasional sparks in Afridi, but it is no exaggeration in claiming that he looks like a spent force. The agility is missing, and so is the fire which keeps bowlers on their toes whenever Afridi walks out to bat. How good Afridi is as a leader can only be seen in the time to come, if at all he is able to spark some inspiration in the team that he has.

Pakistan can be enigmatic, but for that their key areas need to function together. In the Asia Cup 2016, their top-order continued to flop and the bowlers failed miserably to provide assistance to Mohammad Aamer — who bowled his heart out against India to give some hope. Their fielding has been a major embarrassment as well, which is hazardous especially in T20 cricket.

The match against Sri Lanka will provide Pakistan a good chance to target a win with a clear mind. There will be no pressure to qualify for the Asia Cup 2016 final as India and Bangladesh have already booked their slots, and Pakistan, if they want, can approach the game keeping in mind that they need to get their basics right. And for that, their selection has to be spot-on, and basics need to be carried out.

(Devarchit Varma is senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)