Pakistan’s cricket team is going through a tough phase these days. With Misbah-ul-Haq not there in One-day Internationals and Younis Khan also having retired, there seems to be a big vacuum in the middle-order.
But instead of addressing the problem with batting order by taking some remedial steps, Pakistan’s head coach Waqar Younis has embarked on an outrageous policy of experimentation when stability should have been given priority.
When wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed is giving some good performances with the bat down the order, he is promoted to bat at number 4. The man who saved blushes for the side in the second ODI against England scoring 64 at number 7 was brought to bat at number 4 in the next match. The result was expectedly not encouraging. He managed 26.
It reminds one of World Cup 2015 when Sarfraz was warming the bench while Umar Akmal was dropping catches behind the wickets. Waqar came under heavy criticism then and under pressure Sarfraz was brought but was sent to open the innings in a high-voltage match against South Africa in challenging conditions in Auckland. Giving a pleasant surprise to the nation, Sarfraz shined with the bat and also behind the wickets. But lives of Pakistan cricketers are not full of pleasant surprises!
Other international teams have been making progress steadily in the ODI format. See how Bangladesh are doing. The Bengal Tigers are no more minnows and have been winning matches against top sides. England have also buried demons of the World Cup and have started performing well with young players.
A well-placed source in the PCB on condition of anonymity told ‘The News on Sunday’ that opener Ahmed Shahzad has been facing the same hostility from the coach as Sarfraz faced during the World Cup. “It is obvious that Pakistan need specialist openers in these circumstances. Moreover, skipper Azhar Ali is a good batsman but he will be more prolific at number 3. Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shahzad must open the innings in order to bring some stability in the batting,” the source said.
“However, it is evident that Waqar who readily takes grudges is ignoring Ahmed Shahzad on purpose. But the pressure is mounting and most probably Shahzad will make it to the playing eleven soon,” he said.
Former chief selector Mohsin Khan seconded this opinion and said the team has been selected on the basis of personal likes and dislikes. Mohsin said there was no reason for ignoring Ahmed Shahzad other than the personal disliking of the coach. “If there are disciplinary issues, then please tell the nation and send him back home. There should be no compromise on discipline. But since he is still with the team so there are no disciplinary issues I expect. It is evident that Ahmed has been unable to make it to the playing eleven because he is disliked by the person who has been calling the shots,” he added.
“If we want to continue with such unprofessional style and hope to win then we must arrange more series with Zimbabwe,” said sarcastic Mohsin.
Another former chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu has said that Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shahzad should open the innings for Pakistan. “We need a specialist and experienced player to open the innings. Inexperienced players are bound to struggle,” he said.