Sports

What suddenly went wrong with Pakistan?

Written by Omair Alavi

By: Omair Alavi The series against the West Indians was always going to be a tough one, especially after the kind of squad that was sent from Pakistan. The desperation that should have been part of the Men in Green’s aura was found in the hosts who clearly executed their plan in a befitting manner…

SAMAA | Omair Alavi – Posted: Apr 8, 2017 | Last Updated: 4 years ago

Ashley Nurse (R) of West Indies hits 4 during the 1st ODI match between West Indies and Pakistan at Guyana National Stadium, Providence, Guyana, on April 7, 2017. The keeper is Sarfraz Ahmed (L) of Pakistan. / AFP PHOTO / Randy BROOKS

By: Omair Alavi

The series against the West Indians was always going to be a tough one, especially after the kind of squad that was sent from Pakistan. The desperation that should have been part of the Men in Green’s aura was found in the hosts who clearly executed their plan in a befitting manner in the first ODI of the series. New West Indian coach Stuart Law won the battle of handling their teams, something that still lacks in Mickey Arthur’s ODI arsenal.

What went wrong with the Pakistan team that posted the highest score at the venue during the first innings? Everything, considering they preferred experience over talent and underestimated the opposition. Yes, most of the players in what could have been the first string West Indian side are playing in the IPL, but the second string proved to be better than the panic stricken best-possible side from this part of the world. When a team drops catches, fields like school children and doesn’t score a boundary in the most crucial part of the innings, then even 350 plus total would have been hard to defend.

The usual suspects in this loss were the old and haggard players who play for their place in the side; Mohammad Hafeez being one of them. No matter how experienced he may be at the international level, he shouldn’t have been sent at number 3 in place of the in-form Babar Azam who has scored 4 centuries at that position. The more you age, the lower you bat yet in the current scenario, we have openers and number 3 who are clearly not the best in the country. Kamran Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad did provide a flourishing start but while other teams’ openers score centuries, the steam of ours end near 50!

Hafeez managed to score over 88 runs of 92 balls but what good did it do for Pakistan? Jason Mohammad scored 3 more runs in nearly half the deliveries and managed to take West Indies home. The indiscipline bowling and lack of planning from Pakistan helped the hosts – why didn’t Imad Wasim open the bowling like he did in Australia; why wasn’t Hasan Ali brought in as first change; why was Wahab Riaz in the side when there is Junaid Khan sitting on the bench. Wahab was dropped from most of the ODIs if I recall correctly yet the coach, manager and staff forgets and forgives to have the once-a-potential pacer back into the side.

The management needs to take a stand and support captain Sarfraz Ahmed who seemed a different self because of the extra burden of performing with the bat, the gloves and as a captain. He was let down by his men mostly because he didn’t assert his authority on them. Had he gotten the side he should have, things would have been different but sadly, that couldn’t happen. When you include ‘bits and pieces’ cricketers in your squad and expect them to do wonders, then this sort of result is expected.

There is no time to be lost because Pakistan’s ranking in ODIs continues its downward movement. If they lose the next 2 matches, West Indies will become the 8th ranked team in the world just months before the ICC World Cup qualification cut-off date of September 30. Pakistan may have entered the series as favourites over desperate West Indies but the first match showed that the tables might have turned. Pakistan must give preference to the guys who play with a mindset of a modern cricketer, not one who believe a dot ball is better than a dismissal. In modern day cricket, a dot ball is sometimes even worse than getting dismissed and that’s why over a 100 dot balls cost Pakistan the match.

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Omair Alavi