You don’t have to beat Pakistan team when it’s not their day; all you have to do is let them beat themselves. The same thing happened to Misbah-ul-Haq’s team at Sharjah where they handed the match on a platter to West Indies who were expecting a tough fight.
The match was a disaster from the start as Pakistan lost first two wickets in the very first over of the match. However, they recovered well to post 281 runs which proved to be a small total considering the visitors scored 337 in return. The ‘hosts’ managed only 208 runs in their second outing, setting a target of 153 runs. And the West Indians managed to reach the target with five wickets and nearly a day to spare.
So what went wrong in the last match of the tour when Pakistan had won everything from the ODIs to the T20Is and the first two Tests. Coach Mickey Arthur claimed that the players were tired but that’s the worst excuse anyone can give. The players are paid to play; they aren’t playing just for the love of their country. If they are tired, then young legs should be dispatched to New Zealand and Australia where the conditions will be tougher and more demanding.
It also seemed that the Pakistan side wasn’t willing to learn in their second outing after not doing well in the first. They made the same mistakes and got out cheaply. Run outs like Mohammad Amir’s on the penultimate day point to the fact that our cricketers need a sane brain on their head as well.
The one-dimensional bowling attack was also going to be a problem. There were in all four left-arm bowlers and a leg break bowler in a side that was facing an opposition with quality left-handed batsmen. The one right-armer who was selected in the second Test, Sohail Khan, lacked temperament and had stamina issues, making him ideal for the limited overs. Why wasn’t Imran Khan used in the last match considering he doesn’t get fatigued easily and was at one time an automatic selection as the best right arm pacer? After the first Two Tests, it was clear that Mohammad Nawaz is not suitable for Tests, yet he was selected for all three matches. His selection in the last Test alongside the much senior Zulfiqar Babar was a disaster, especially when the latter was informed during the match that he will miss the next series.
What added insult to injury were the many dropped catches.
The captaincy was also not up to the mark; why couldn’t Misbah open the bowling in the second innings with Zulfiqar as the pitch was behaving strange and supported the spinners? Why weren’t the spinners used on the final day when it was obvious that the pacers weren’t getting help from the wicket? What role will Nawaz play Down Under in the absence of Zulfiqar who has experience and element of surprise with him (15 not out off 7 balls in second innings).
Pakistan’s next tour is to New Zealand and later to Australia with the same side that won the first two Tests against the West Indies. If the players are lethargic, then they must be given a few days off so that they can play with ease and fervor. The team’s combination must be selected after looking at the opposition’s weaknesses rather than our strengths because we will be the tourists and the hosts might have a trick or two up their sleeves. One hopes that Misbah — the most experienced captain of Pakistan — doesn’t falter in his final ‘Test’.