National Twenty20 Cup: With the English County season drawing to a close my thoughts turn to returning to Pakistan and taking part in the domestic season back there. It is good to see that the PCB has finally announced the full schedule for a domestic season well in advance. It helps the players organise themselves as they know when the domestic matches will be played, rather than being notified at the last minute of a hastily organised tournament. I am playing once again for Rawalpindi in the National Twenty20 Cup and it is a tournament that I am looking forward to. It was good to play in this tournament last year and it should be good this time around also. READ MORE: Pakistan on verge of making this Independence Day special for their well-deserving fans
I have said it before that the domestic Twenty20 tournaments need to have more matches and it is good to see that this time around there will be more fixtures for each team. It gives teams and players a good chance to compete, rather than playing a couple of matches and then being knocked out within a few days of the start of the tournament. It also gives players a proper chance to express themselves in the tournament. I think with Pakistan looking to re-establish itself in the twenty over format, this tournament gives the players a chance to impress the selectors and catch their eye.
England versus Pakistan Test series: I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Test series and it was great to watch two evenly matched teams really going for it against each other. Not many people expected Pakistan to compete so well and they proved a lot of people wrong. Misbah-ul-Haq‘s century in the first Test was the key as it gave the rest of the Pakistani batsmen the confidence and self-belief they needed. Guys like Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq saw their captain perform heroics at Lord’s and it helped them and gave them a boost at the start of the series. Yasir Shah was superb in the first and last matches and all in all I thought the bowlers kept on working hard and plugging away. At The Oval whilst the likes of Younis Khan won lots of praise, I feel that Wahab’s spell on Day One was outstanding and set the tone for Pakistan in that match. ALSO READ: India-Pakistan Test series is the need of the hour; shame that the top 2 Test side don’t play
There was some exceptional cricket played by both teams and both teams deserve praise for their efforts. Pakistan can be thoroughly proud of their efforts as drawing a Test series against England in their home conditions is not an easy task.
One-Day series between England and Pakistan: Pakistan need to go into the one-day series with the same mentality as they did in the Test series. Play with the same passion and commitment and believe in their ability. The Test success was built around a total team effort and that is probably what has been lacking for Pakistan recently in the limited overs formats, where they have largely relied on individual brilliance rather than a collective effort. There is a lot at stake given the ICC rankings and Pakistan really needs to up its game and each player needs to play according to the team plan and ensure that they perform their role.
England has a formidable One-Day team with a lot of batting strength but they are beatable if Pakistan plays to its potential. It is important that Pakistan’s senior players stand up and be counted in this ODI series. The contributions of Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul will be vital for Pakistan. If these players lead the way, then the younger players will perform also and I am certain that Pakistan can mount a very strong challenge and defeat England. Also read: English all-rounder David Willey to join ODI squad despite injury
License to Attack: Sharjeel Khan‘s inclusion in the one-day squad is very good. However ,what I am surprised at is why he was dropped in the first place. If he had been given a decent run of matches as he deserved then he would have been an integral part of the Pakistan one-day team, but instead he has to re-establish himself. He has performed for Pakistan A, he has performed in domestic cricket and he was one of the stars of the Pakistan Super League so he deserves a good run now. I hope he performs in the series against England like he did against Ireland. But for him to perform like that he needs the backing of the management and skipper and be given license to attack. His role is vital for the batting unit as the other batsmen can bat around him and he can attack and single-handedly destroy the opposition bowling attack.
(Yasir Arafat is a Pakistani cricketer who has played 11 One-Day Internationals and 3 Tests for his country. The above column was first published in PakPassion.)