By the time this piece reaches the readers, the result of the ODI series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be done and dusted. So are there any lessons to be learnt? And if there are, then more importantly, are we ready to learn from them? I am not really sure about the veracity of these questions from the team management’s point of view but I definitely have my own take on them.
The tour to Sri Lanka as I see it was marred by crises of 2Cs: Crisis of Confidence and Crisis of Concentration!
One might argue that this is a natural phenomenon and is part and parcel of any competitive sport. But isn’t it the name of the game, that is, whoever is able to control and minimise the effect of this will ultimately carry the honours. I think the Sri Lankans were able to manage the element of 2Cs far better than us and hence the results.
I will start by making a comparison between the two captains. I think Angelo Mathews outdid Misbah-ul-Haq, both as captain and player. He was astute in decision making and inventive in field-placing.
Misbah’s shortcomings as captain and as player are exposed when you consider the difference in age and experience between the two. Misbah suffered from the 2Cs more as a player, resulting in a below-par performance and as a natural consequence, his captaincy suffered. Simply put, he was not able to lead by example.
Given the stage of his career, I thought Misbah had nothing to lose and would outperform his rival captain by being upfront in decision making. But I guess the quintessential axiom ‘you need to perform before you assume the role of leader’ precedes everything. Throughout this series, he was tentative while batting, getting out to innocuous deliveries. His crises of confidence and concentration in his batting led to his dismal performance, which affected his captaincy.
Although we have to wait for tour management’s committee report, as of now Misbah’s position as a captain is quite secured for which he has also received backing from the new chairman.
For Pakistan’s sake and for his own too, Misbah needs to gather his scattered wits. He should lead by example by overcoming the two crises.
On the batting front, apart from Younis’s epic innings in the first Test and scores by Sarfraz and Asad, Pakistan performed very poorly. All batsmen suffered from the two crises. Even Sarfraz and Asad suffered from lapses in concentration.
They could have gone on to score more had they been able to avoid lapses in concentration. Having said that I would propose that their batting, especially Sarfraz’s, should be analysed and benchmarked for the rest of the batsmen in terms of batting against spinners in trying conditions.
In the ODIs so far, Hafeez, Fawad and Sohaib have given a fair account of their batting abilities by managing the 2Cs, but consistency alone would help us in determining the confidence level with which these batsmen would perform in the series against Australia and New Zealand.
Our pack of bowlers also lacked confidence and lost concentration occasionally. Saeed Ajmal, reported for suspect action, may have a reason for his poor performance but the rest of the bowlers have been afflicted with issues which ultimately became the 2Cs. Mohammad Talha lacked match fitness. Abdul Rehman’s irregularity in the playing eleven has meant loss-in-form.
In ODIs Junaid Khan and Shahid Afridi are struggling to find their line and length. And to top it all Pakistan opted to play Irfan, who not only looks out-of-form but also lacks match fitness.
At present Pakistan team has an extended support staff. Coaching and management staff includes great names such as Waqar Younis, Moin Khan, Mushtaq Ahmed and Grant Fowler. It is impossible to imagine that they won’t be able to fix any problem. But here lies the catch: one must be able to identify the problem before one can propose a remedy. Identifying the problem obviously requires careful diagnosis and I hope the team management has already spotted this element of 2Cs and started taking care of it. However, the results so far do not really mirror any substantial efforts in this regard.