Pakistani batsmen failed to score big, their bowling remained unsuccessful and fielders dropped half a dozen catches. It is the short story of Pakistan’s pathetic performance in the Asia Cup.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s batting technique and temperament as skipper have also been questioned. The Champions Trophy winner was totally out of form in the tournament. Sarfraz scored only 68 runs with a very low average of 17. Almost in every game he threw his wicket under pressure while playing an unnecessary shot.
Surprisingly, in the Asia Cup, not only fast bowlers, but Pakistan’s leading ODI spinner Shadab Khan also failed miserably. Indian, Bangladeshi and Afghani spinners took wickets on the same tracks. Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan grabbed 10 wickets at an average of just 17.2 in five matches. Shadab took only four wickets in as many matches, averaging 35.75.
Amir and Shadab were absolutely off colour. Their performances were totally different from those in Champions Trophy last year.
Pakistan’s main strikers Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali failed to give early breakthrough, especially against India.
Amir, considered a leader of the Pakistan bowling attack, remained wicket-less in Asia Cup’s three matches he played, conceding 84 runs. Hasan Ali took five matches in as many matches at a high average of 43.
On the other hand, before the final, Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman had taken eight wickets, India’s Jasprit Bumrah seven, Bhuveneshwar Kumar six, Sri Lanka’s Thisara perera six in two matches, Afghanistan’s Aftab Alam six.
It has been more than two years since Amir returned to international cricket following the ban. Before the ban Amir averaged 29.09 and 24.00 in Tests and ODIs, respectively.
Since his comeback in 2016, his average has gone up to 36.66 and 33.21 in Tests and ODIs, respectively. He has not taken more than three wickets in a game.
The reduction in the number of balls that Amir swings into the right hander and away from the left hander is a cause for concern. It shows he has lost some of the bite which made him so successful before his ban.
On the batting side, except Shoaib Malik, no batsmen showed consistency in the tournament. Opener Imam-ul-Haq remained the most successful Pakistani batsman with 225 runs, averaging 56.25, including three fifties. Shoaib and Babar Azam scored 211 and 156 runs, respectively.
The most unexpected performance came from opener Fakhar Zaman. He managed only 56 runs in five matches, averaging just 11.20. His confidence looked shattered from the first game. His shot selection was totally different from his performance in Champions Trophy and against Zimbabwe earlier this year. He needs a big innings to restore his confidence.
Leave the Indian batsmen who are world’s best, even Afghanistan batsmen Mohammad Shahzad (268) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (263) performed much better than Pakistani players who were playing on their “home ground”.