There is much that Shaharyar Khan says that is either gibberish or akin to shooting oneself in the foot but on few occasions comes something worthwhile. Such a thought came when the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa side entered the final of the Pentangular Trophy even though predictably he let his emotions get in the way of reality.
He was quoted as saying at the trophy unveiling ceremony: “I don’t see any reason for Pakistan not performing to their potential in the mega event.
We may not have big names of the past in our national team today, but if our boys play as a unit then their performance will definitely be much better. I can give the example of Peshawar Panthers who won the national T20 title a few months ago without having any superstars in their team. But the unity and harmony in their team was exemplary which other sides didn’t have and that is why they lifted the trophy.
“The Pentangular Cup is another good example where Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Fighters have made it to the final without big names that other teams have. If the Pakistan team can emulate what Peshawar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have shown, they can go all the way in the upcoming World Cup.”
I said he got his emotions in the way of reality because KP bowling line-up consisted of four international players, two of whom were instrumental in Pakistan’s demolition of Australia in the UAE a few weeks back: Yasir Shah and Imran Khan.
The other two were Pakistan’s spearhead Junaid Khan and the fading though still hostile Mohammad Sami.
But, yes, in batting though Mukhtar Ahmed and Mohammad Rizwan have been clocking runs for a couple of seasons and could well be considered international class, Shaharyar had a valid observation as he had for the Peshawar Panthers.
KP went on to win the final and proved the point that the PCB chief made: that the Pakistan team should learn from the spirit that KP (and before them the Peshawar Panthers in the T20 tournament) displayed. Learn from the old frontier (province) seems to be his mantra.
But once again he went overboard when he said that he had never seen a Pakistan team so united. He can be excused as he has limited knowledge of the game, having spent 40 years in bureaucracy and a lot of it abroad when Imran Khan was leading the boys from late 1986 to that final in Melbourne in the 1992 World Cup.
So a balanced scorecard for Shaharyar over the past week; he has to be excused for his childlike enthusiasm and his penchant for emotiveness. It’s natural when you are trying to position yourself as an expert when you have neither the knowledge nor the insight of the subject.
It is this misplaced perception of himself that scares me considering that he will be the man who will finally give the nod to the new captain after the World Cup.
Of course there is ample chance of Shahid Afridi taking back his retirement plans. Some scene can be staged like someone of influence asks him to stay on for a year till a captain is developed from among the new lot, telling him that it would be damaging if two senior players left at the same time, which is what Misbah and Afridi plan to do come April.
Shaharyar would not like the Afridi extension of course as he feels angry at not being foretold of Afridi’s decision to call it quits in One-day Internationals.
If the Prime Minister, patron of PCB, asks Afridi to reconsider his decision the player might wilt. Or Imran Khan may have a word with him. And if Afridi in the coming World Cup were to be the cricketer he was in the World Twenty20 of 2009, he himself might see it fit to stay for another year.
After all he is still the captain of the T20 side and has said he plans to carry on there. Nevertheless some names are being bandied around and the four that have been apparently shortlisted are Fawad Alam, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin and Azhar Ali (as per ‘The News’ story last Wednesday).
Proposing the names of Umar Amin and Azhar Ali is a bit ridiculous because they are not part of the team. Fawad is not there too currently but he has at least shown signs of adaptation in 2014 and played fantastically in the Asia Cup.
But it is the omissions that surprise me and those are Ahmed Shahzad and Sarfraz Ahmed. Both are established players of the ODI side and have leadership qualities.
They have demonstrated over the past few weeks their form and fitness as well.
PCB has so far not mentioned anyone though Misbah has apparently given his input to the chairman.
Shaharyar may have shown an interest in the four mentioned for the sole reason that they will be more amiable and not make waves, something that the chairman is wary of. He knows that Ahmed Shahzad is a prodigy of Afridi and has a string of controversies since his days with the under-19 squad. Sarfraz Ahmed too can be his own man having captained Pakistan under-19.
I would disregard the four mentioned who have yet to firm up their positions in the ODI XI. The best man would be Ahmed Shahzad as captain and Sarfraz as his deputy. But enough time for that. For the moment it’s all eyes on Misbah and Afridi in the forthcoming World Cup.