It was a case of lack of application from our players and some fine penetrative bowling by the Sri Lankans in the second Test, but once again the domestic structure has been called to the fore by the Pakistan team management.
Why is domestic cricket called into question every time Pakistan lose? Why is it not brought up in a press conference after the team wins like it did the first Test?
It seems even the Pakistani journalists present in Sri Lanka who normally follow the team as it travels the world are sick and tired of these comments. Right or wrong the question here is of timing. If you win it is strategic planning and guidance; if you lose it’s the system back home that is stupid.
It was the very system that Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed, who salvaged the first innings in the first Test, grew up from and yet when they couldn’t repeat their rescue act in the second Test, the system was called into question.
It is this very system that has thrown up Yasir Shah who successively took more than five wickets in an innings — first in the second innings of the first Tests and then in the first innings of the second Test.
It’s time the PCB placed a moratorium on domestic cricket being criticised by the team management.
It is an insult to the country and the PCB. Why should individuals who have themselves so much to answer for berate the cricket board for their perceived shortcomings?
This should be put under disciplinary clause and in the contract for the team management. After all if the cricketers can be put under suspension or ostracised from tours for disciplinary reasons that occur behind the scenes this overt criticism should also be taken notice of.
Even now if someone in the PCB is reading this, a letter can be shot out to Sri Lanka asking for an explanation.
I fear this will again be used otherwise as the tour progresses, especially as pressure mounts for Pakistan to qualify directly for the 2017 Champions Trophy which requires at least a 3-2 win in the ODI series.
Coming to the ODI series, Pakistan are definitely on the back foot as Hafeez’s action has been called again and he will not be featuring.
With Haris Sohail also doubtful unless his injury clears up quickly, perhaps Pakistan has no option but to recall Shoaib Malik though I would go for someone younger.
Nevertheless, his departure from the Caribbean where he was playing the local T20 tournament is a clear sign that he has been asked to join the team.
Ironically his replacement is Misbah-ul-Haq who was forced out of the T20 side many months ago; it seems everyone except the Pakistani selectors realises his value as a shorter format player.
Pakistan will definitely struggle as Sri Lanka play to their home conditions. But they will take some solace from the fact that both Mahela Jayewardene and Kumar Sangakkara will not be playing, as they retired from ODI cricket following the World Cup.
The announcement of a tri-series in Zimbabwe where Pakistan and the West Indies are the other teams has lifted the pressure a bit in the sense that even if they don’t achieve their desired series win against Sri Lanka in the ODI series they still have the tournament to finish in the top eight in the ICC rankings.
Bangladesh are clearly miffed at this late announcement of the tournament and rightly so. They needed to win two of their scheduled six ODIs against India and South Africa in their home series and did so. In that way they qualified directly for the ICC Champions trophy as they finished eighth. Now they shouldn’t really have worried even if they lost 0-4 to South Africa at home. But this tri-lateral series that comes before the September 30 deadline has pout a spanner in their works.
It has also raised the question as to whether ICC should have some say in what teams arrange whenever there is a deadline that is announced.
It will be a difficult proposition since they have disengaged themselves from the FTP and now countries are open to bilateral arrangement for playing cricket with each other.
This tri-series proves that there is a big lacuna in the scheduling system when it comes to cut off dates for qualifying for ICC tournaments.
Bangladesh are sitting at No 7 ahead of West Indies who are eighth and Pakistan ninth.
Now West Indies, who had originally no ODI series planned till September 30 and had resigned themselves to the possibility of playing the qualifying rounds if Pakistan, just one point behind them, were to win in Sri Lanka, have a lifeline even if Pakistan succeed.
In that way they can still leapfrog Bangladesh who are five points ahead of them.
This will be an away series so West Indies will gain some bonus points if they beat Zimbabwe. Bangladesh will now have to really raise their cricket and win one or two of the four ODIs they play against South Africa to be once again sure of qualifying directly for the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.