Pakistan cricket team continues to surprise the fans with its unpredictable performance ahead of the World Cup, starting in less than a week. The former World Champions lost everything thrown their way — from the practice matches to the one day internationals — ahead of the mega event and yet the management feels that the team has every chance to lift the World Cup. How, remains a valid question!
So where does the Pakistan cricket team stand at the moment, on the eve of the World Cup? Nowhere, if you ask me. For a Test playing nation known for its bowling prowess throughout the world, Pakistan has selected one of the weakest bunch of bowlers for what can be termed as a sort of pace attack. The only thing pacy about them comes in the form of Bilawal Bhatti, who only played against New Zealand because Junaid Khan was unable to travel due to fitness issues. The Bhatti Express got every chance to prove its mettle but as they say, with fast pace comes great responsibility and Bilawal was unable to fulfill that responsibility Down Under.
Yes, Pakistan have Mohammad Irfan, the over seven feet tall fast bowler who can go through any batsman’s defence on his day but his performance has been ordinary so far. Even then he seems the best bowler on tour for the Green-shirts because the rest have been even worse. Ehsan Adil will have to work extra hard if he has to prove that he hasn’t been selected in the squad due to Misbah ul Haq’s influence; the same can be said of Wahab Riaz who still seems to live in the past when once upon a time he took five wickets against India in a World Cup semi-final that Pakistan eventually lost, and India eventually managed to win the World Cup.
He may be the head coach’s favourite bowler but if Waqar Younis wants to win the trophy he was unable to lift in 1992, he must teach the boys some (legal) tricks of the trade, or their fate might be sealed before the semi-finals.
Move onto the batting department, where the men in green have always been unpredictable. The batsmen selected to represent Pakistan in the World Cup are a mixed bunch; one of them experiences paranormal activity and tells all, only to become the butt of all ghostly jokes (which also affects his performance). The management is to be blamed here for not keeping a lid on such news which had a field day in Pakistan and abroad. Then there is a captain who hasn’t scored an ODI century; a maverick batsman who is a legend in his own mind; a potential future captain who doesn’t have a place in the side because of his future prospect; and a very senior batsman who has been failing miserably in one dayers, yet continues to bat at the all-important number three position. In cricket playing countries with sensible people at the helm, there is such a thing as ‘changing the batting order’ but it seems that the phenomenon hasn’t reached Pakistan yet and that’s why we continue to suffer from ‘we can do it’ obsession.
And then there is the curious case of Sarfraz Ahmed, the wicket-keeper batsman for Pakistan who had a terrific 2014, and seems to be having a terrible 2015. His predecessor (Kamran Akmal, not Umar or Adnan) rightly said that no wicketkeeper is perfect. Sarfraz seems far from perfect at the moment. He drops catches, misses stumping opportunities and above all, isn’t scoring runs since the calendar has been changed.
One can only hope that the keeper-batsman finds his form in time and gives Pakistan the stability it requires from him wherever he bats, or whenever the ball goes behind the stumps.
Yes, we won the World Cup in 1992 in the month of February and March with a team that was full of misfit cricketers, a very mature captain, a very senior batsman, some really talented cricketers and a bowling attack that was anything but ideal.
Twenty three years later, it is a different ball game; in those days bowlers were treated with respect but now, they neither have respect nor the rules on their side.
In those days, pinch hitting was a new idea, now thanks to T20 cricket everybody loves to hit the ball out of the ground, be it the top order batsman or the number 11. Doesn’t matter for us because we still live in the past and the preparations ahead of the mega event are a proof of that. If Pakistan want to win the World Cup, they will have to rely on their extra player — Mr Luck who seems to be on the opponents’ side at the moment.