fter being beaten in the Test series, Pakistan also lost the One-day International series against South Africa, by 3-2. So far it has not been a memorable tour for Pakistan. First they were whitewashed in the Test series. Then skipper Sarfraz Ahmed received a four-match ban from the ICC and now they have also lost the ODI series.
Pakistan became the first Asian side to beat South Africa at home in an ODI series in 2013 but failed to repeat their performance this time.
So far, 75 ODIs have been played between the two teams. South Africa have won 48 of them, while the Green-shirts remained successful only 26 times.
All five matches in the recent ODI series were won by the side batting second.
The South African batting was not much strong, but there was a difference of approach and professionalism.
One satisfactory thing for Pakistan was the bowling performance. Muhammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi and Shadab Khan kept the Proteas batsmen under pressure throughout the series and never allowed them to cross the 300-run mark. As usual it was the batting that let Pakistan down.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz was suspended for four matches for racist comments on South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo during the second ODI in Durban.
Sarfraz posted an apology on Twitter, saying his words weren’t “directed at anyone in particular” and that he had no “intention of upsetting anyone”. He also apologised to Phehlukwayo in person. It was accepted by the South African all-rounder.
But the ICC still handed him a four-match ban. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) showed its disappointment at the ICC’s decision and called the skipper back immediately.
What result can be expected from a team whose skipper’s future is uncertain! After back-to-back series losses, against New Zealand in the UAE and in South Africa, there have been calls for removal of Sarfraz as captain.
After taking charge as PCB chief, Ehsan Mani in a TV interview said that Sarfraz would remain the captain till World Cup 2019. But a few days back a PCB spokesman stated that the name of the skipper for the World Cup would be announced after the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram has strongly supported Sarfraz Ahmed. He insists that Sarfraz should remain the national team’s captain. “There is no need to change the captain before the World Cup. We need a long term captain not a short term one,” he said.
Wasim said the only reason he was backing Sarfraz was that he was a fighter and led the side with courage in all formats. “He is still learning and will get better as he matures and gains more experience. He will learn from his mistake. He has apologised. It would be wrong to remove him as captain,” he added.
It is true that Shoaib Malik is leading the team well but he has announced that he would retire from ODIs after the World Cup. So we need a captain who could be appointed for a long term.
The PCB has not appointed a vice-captain. A young talented player should be appointed as the deputy of Sarfraz so that he could learn and replace the skipper when needed.
Wasim slammed PCB’s decision to call back Sarfraz from South Africa. He said it was wrong to speculate about his future in the Pakistan team.
If we want to repeat Champions Trophy performance in the World Cup, the PCB must announce the captain and the vice-captain immediately.
There is also a question mark on batting coach Grant Flower’s performance. He has been associated with the team for a long time, but there is no sign of improvement in the batsmen’s technique. They are throwing their wickets in the same manner. They are unable to handle rising deliveries and mostly get out while trying to pull.
Former Pakistan captain and current chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq was the last Pakistani batsman who could play the pull shot with authority. Flower should at least tell the players if they can’t pull confidently they should leave the ball.
Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq was the most successful batsman of the ODI series with 271 runs, averaging 54.20, including one hundred and two fifties. For South Africa, HE van der Dussen scored 241 runs in four innings with three fifties at an average of 120.50.
Babar Azam (195), Fakhar Zaman (167) and Mohammad Hafeez (149) were the only other players from Pakistan to score more than 100 during the series.
On the bowling side, Proteas all-rounder Phehlukwayo was the most successful. He took eight wickets in the series, averaging 24.37. Young Shaheen Shah Afridi took six wickets in four matches, averaging 23.16.