Omair Alavi|Sports|November 8, 2020
The hosts went into the bio-secure bilateral series against Zimbabwe with a huge support staff that wasn’t needed or required.
|They came, they played and they conquered the hearts of all those who followed the ODI series between Pakistan and Zimbabwe.|
Sadly, it was the visitors who came out as the better side, nearly winning the first match of the series and clearly winning the final encounter. While on paper it says that Pakistan won the series 2-1, it was Zimbabwe that impressed, that too, without a coach, without playing at home, and without the best batsman or bowler in the world. Pakistan’s lack of a lot of things became visible during the series, and it would be criminal not to point them out.
Street smartness always saves the day!
There was a reason why former Zimbabwean Captain Dave Houghton credited Javed Miandad for a Man of the Match award he received in 1997, after losing a match to South Africa. He told the presenter that Javed Miandad never failed against his side because of his street smart attitude and because he was never resting when on the field. That’s the first and most important thing that’s missing in the Pakistan camp where plans are made on paper and executed on the ground with nothing innovative. Javed Miandad threatened to quit if an unknown teenager Wasim Akram wasn’t selected, Imran Khan used Ejaz Ahmed as a part-time bowler during the 1992 World Cup, Wasim Akram bowled newcomer Mujahid Jamshed to add ‘shock’ value to the opponents during World Series Cricket and Sarfaraz Ahmed went for an unknown Fakhar Zaman when the management’s darling Ahmed Shehzad failed during the 2017 Champions’ Trophy. That’s the kind of decision-making which makes a team stand out and that’s how you win matches and tournaments. Not by appointing the teacher’s pet as the Head Boy (coach and his favourite as skipper here), elevating losers to important positions, and claiming that All Is Well when it certainly isn’t.
Bad selection, bad outcome
Everyone from the street vendor to the top management of Pakistan cricket knows that Misbah-ul-Haq is not a good chief selector but then no one remembers the last time we had one. Apart from Mohsin Hassan Khan who ‘unselected’ Umar Akmal for the right reasons, everyone has tried to honour friends, family, or favourites when it came to the selection of the national team. Misbah should have been sacked the moment he announced the return of Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal last year, but he wasn’t. He should have been reprimanded for persisting with a 30-year-old (OLD being the keyword) Iftikhar Ahmed who showed his ‘class’ in the super over but wasn’t. Had he been a self-respecting person like Bob Woolmer, Misbah would have left the many positions he holds in the national setup but sadly, not everyone is like the late coach. Bad selection leads to bad outcomes, and it seems followers of the game must brace themselves for more heartaches until the Man Misbah is there!
Lack of imaginative captaincy
You might be the best batsman in the world, or among the very best ever, but that doesn’t make you the most imaginative person to lead the side. Babar Azam is more like Saeed Anwar, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara when it comes to captaincy, as they all failed when given the responsibility of leading the side. On the other hand, average players like Mike Brearley, Misbah ul Haq and even Graeme Smith (when he was appointed Skipper) were able to lead their side to one victory after another because they had the brains to think ahead. Sadly, the same Misbah is now at the helm of Pakistan cricket, and lacks every good quality of an administrator, and the sooner he realises that his place is somewhere else, the better for Pakistan Cricket.
Key to victory: Know all players
Pakistan went into the bio-secure bilateral series with a huge support staff that wasn’t needed or required. Yet when it came to sending batsmen for the super over, they seemed to forget they were representing Pakistan and were still in the Pakistan Super League mode. Even captains at street level cricket have more acumen than Babar and Misbah displayed at that moment. They sent the debutant Khushdil Shah and the tried-and-failed Iftikhar Ahmed, instead of power hitter Fakhar Zaman (who is in the team for his hard hits and was sent as the last resort), Faheem Ashraf (he fancies himself as an all-rounder), Wahab Riaz (who scored fifty in the match), Mohammad Musa (who hit two fours in the final over).
The captain could have come himself, considering he was dismissed in the penultimate over after scoring a run-a-ball century. As a result, the team managed to score two runs off four deliveries, the kind of score people manage in double wicket competitions where amateurs play for fun. The only difference here was the whole management was playing with fans’ emotions and making them feel helpless with their hopeless decisions!