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A must-win situation

Pakistan must win both ODI series to improve ranking

A must-win situation

Finally the efforts of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and nation’s prayers bore fruit and Zimbabwe cricket team has arrived in Pakistan and international cricket has begun. Both the fans and management are happy with the restoration of international cricket in Pakistan and have forgotten the limited-overs matches humiliating defeats in Bangladesh due to which Pakistan have gone down in ODI ranking to lowest-ever 9th position, even behind Bangladesh.

The management should not relax after the Test series win in Bangladesh. It is time to review the reasons for the debacle and try to remove the bugs out of our system governing cricket in Pakistan. Immediate surgery is needed to at least clear the visible wounds. Twenty20 and ODI series against Zimbabwe is a good opportunity to test our young guns on home ground.

Waqar Younis, Pakistan’s head coach, should teach our fast bowlers the skill of swinging the new ball for which he was known in the cricketing world. Our pacers only bowl fast and short. The era of effective yorkers seems to have ended with the careers of Wasim and Waqar. The two Ws got lots of wickets with their lethal Yorkers, especially against the tail-enders.

Pakistanis were the inventors of reverse swing, but now our bowlers rarely use this weapon. Waqar himself was famous for his toe crushers so why has he not made efforts to teach our youngsters the method of reverse swing.

“We have been playing defensive cricket for too long; it will take time to get out of this mindset,” Waqar admitted after the ODI series loss against Bangladesh.

The problem with our team is clear. We simply have failed to bring in new talent. There is no lack of talent in the country. We need to discover on time who can replace Misbah, Younis, Afridi and others.

If PCB is keen to play bilateral series with India in December, it has around six months to plan. Forget Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, keep eyes on future and find out aggressive bowlers who can take wickets in any condition like Wasim and Waqar.

Yasir took seven wickets on his Test debut against Australia at the age of over 30. Coaches and regional academies have failed to prepare strong back up players.

People are not interested in watching domestic tournaments, particularly when star players pull out due to county engagements.

Why did PCB allow Shahid Afridi and Wahab Riaz to leave domestic Twenty20 tournament and earn money from county cricket. When Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq who has retired from ODI and T20I takes part in the local Twenty20 tournament, how can the national T20 captain skip the tournament?

Obviously county contracts are signed a long ago but duty in domestic tournaments should be made compulsory in the central contract.

Fitness is also a concern for Pakistan. Our players’ fitness levels are not up to the international standards.

Pakistan Cricket Board boss Shaharyar Khan has also accepted that the national team has the ‘worst fitness level’ in the world and only Misbah and veteran batsman Younis Khan meet the minimum standard.

Pakistan’s problem is that we haven’t looked to groom a future captain, future batsmen or develop anyone really. The management needs to keep a solid young playing 11 for the future. Let them make mistakes, be aggressive, stumble and fall, let them grow, perhaps only then will the collapses stop.

Former captain Javed Miandad has claimed that he can radically improve the fortunes of Pakistan cricket in six months time. “Even when I was working as PCB Director General, I gave a plan to the chairman but nothing happened. Even now, I need just six months to bring about improvements in our domestic structure and also improve our international cricket performances,” Miandad said.

The management should listen to Pakistan’s highest Test run-getter, if he has any appropriate plan to revamp Pakistan cricket. Not only Miandad, PCB should also contact Wasim Akram, Aaqib Javed, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf to improve the national team’s performance and domestic structure.

Pakistan cricket team’s immediate target is to improve its ODI ranking; at least 8th position before September 2015 so that it can qualify for the 2017 Champions League in England.

The team has two ODI series before the deadline. First the three-match home series against Zimbabwe, and then five ODIs against Sri Lanka. Pakistan must win both ODI series to improve ranking.

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Khurram Mahmood

Khurram Mahmood 2019

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