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Pakistan’s Olympic challenge

Having failed to make the cut for last year’s World Cup, Pakistan are facing similar fears ahead of the qualifying rounds for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

Pakistan’s Olympic challenge

It is a complete role reversal. In complete contrast to the past when Pakistan would hammer them, almost at will, Bangladesh have whitewashed Pakistan in a three-match One-day International series at home.

Bangladesh recorded their first ODI series win against Pakistan in a one-sided contest. The hosts won the opening game by 79 runs, their first win over Pakistan in 16 years, the second by seven wickets and the final ODI by eight wickets.

This historic result for Bangladesh pushed Pakistan from seventh to eighth place in the ICC ODI rankings.

It was the first bilateral series win for Bangladesh against Pakistan. Bangladesh had previously played five bilateral series against Pakistan and lost all, without winning a single game. They had lost 25 consecutive ODIs to Pakistan before this series.

Before the second ODI at Mirpur, Bangladesh had not chased any score against Pakistan in 20 previous attempts. In the second ODI the hosts chased the 240 runs target with 12 overs to spare.

Pakistan became the fourth Test nation after West Indies (3-0), Zimbabwe (5-0) and New Zealand (3-0) to lose an ODI series against Bangladesh, but it was the first series whitewash by the Tigers against an Asian Test-playing nation.

The change of captain after every loss is not the solution. If Clive Lloyd, Steve Waugh or MS Dhoni were to take command of this Pakistani team most probably the result would be same. It’s a matter of commitment, motivation, planning and execution.

Pakistan players are a bunch of talented individuals but not a team. Every player, especially the newcomers and out of form seniors, was playing just to save his place because he didn’t receive confidence from the management that they would  retain their place for the whole series even if they failed to perform initially.

The ordinary Bangladeshi bowlers bowled out Pakistan twice in three matches while Pakistani bowling, considered the strongest area of the team, failed to get Bangladesh all out in any match. They managed to take only 11 wickets after conceding 820 runs, averaging 74 runs per wicket.

On the other hand Pakistan lost 26 wickets for 739 runs, averaging just over 28 runs per wicket.

The top two batsmen, Tamim Iqbal (312), Mushfiqur Rahim (220), and the three leading bowlers, Arafat Sunny (6-131), Shakib Al-Hasan (5-130) and Rubel Hossain (4-115), were all Bengali.

Wahab Riaz with 4-125 (Econ. 5.20) was the most successful bowler from Pakistan, while Junaid Khan 3-181 (Econ. 6.83), Rahat Ali 2-113 (Econ. 6.64) and Saeed Ajmal 1-123 (Econ. 6.41) remained ineffective. Haris Sohail, Saad Nasim, Umar Gul, Mohammad Hafeez and Zulfiqar Babar remained wicketless.

Saeed Ajmal with his new bowling action failed to trouble batsmen and took only one wicket after conceding 123 runs in two matches.

With such a team we should not expect Azhar Ali to match former captain Misbah-ul-Haq’s feat.

Misbah was Pakistan’s ODI captain from May 2011 to the end of this year’s World Cup. He led in 87 matches and Pakistan won 45 of them. He made 27 of his 42 fifties as captain.

Azhar’s performance was the best from Pakistan with 209 runs at an average of 69.66, including his first ODI century and one fifty. He became the first Pakistan captain since Shahid Afridi to make an ODI hundred. Afridi’s century also came against Bangladesh, in June 2010.

It was only the ninth instance of a Pakistan captain scoring 200-plus runs in a bilateral ODI series. Inzamam achieved this feat on three occasions and Misbah did it twice.

The second most consistent batsman from Pakistan was Haris Sohail who scored 147 runs, averaging 49.

The encouraging side of the tour was the performances of newcomers like Saad Nasim (99), Mohammad Rizwan (67) and Sami Aslam (45), who gave us some hope for Pakistan cricket’s future.

On the other hand veterans disappointed. Mohammad Hafeez managed 8 runs while Fawad Alam scored 18.

The management and the fans should not panic and give more time to new captain Azhar Ali to settle as he is not only leading an inexperienced side but also faced injury problems of leading players, like Sohaib Maqsood, Sohail Khan, Ehsan Adil and Yasir Shah.

Saeed Ajmal was playing his first series after remodeling his action; Mohammad Hafeez didn’t bowl in the first two ODIs due to ban from the ICC.

After the appointment of coach Waqar Younis it was Pakistan’s fifth ODI series defeat—two against New Zealand, one each against Sri Lanka and Australia, and now Bangladesh—within a year. During his tenure Pakistan played 23 ODIs and won only seven.

We can’t blame Waqar for Pakistan’s batting failures, but when bowlers fail to defend 250 runs he must be taken to task.

One comment

  • so .. who in pakistan is now singing – Mauka .. Mauka ???

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