If the World Cup was going to be played on social media, then Pakistan would come out on top. The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) media and sales departments present small things like they have achieved a trip to the moon. Unfortunately, we are conditioned to take everything at face value. If you criticize anything, then people claim it is because of personal conflicts.
Pakistan winning the ODI series against South Africa was a great achievement. However, we seem to forget that South Africa were without the services of seven of their main cricketers. Wins hide many underlying issues just like our middle-order problems.
The fans of chief selector Mohammad Wasim have left no stone unturned in praising his efforts so far. The PCB has also stepped up to take credit. Now Pakistan is facing a South Africa side in the T20 series that is without the services of several players who have gone to the IPL while other key players are injured. The Men in Green are currently facing South Africa’s C side.
Despite facing a weak side, Pakistan barely managed to win the first T20I. We expected Pakistan to walk all over South Africa in the second T20I but the ‘kids’ put the Men in Green through great trouble. Our batting problems on a flat track are a big cause for concern.
It is clear that after Babar Azam, the whole team is relying on Mohammad Rizwan. His failure after 10 innings showcased the frailty of Pakistan’s batting. Rizwan is our main performer. He has been performing at a high level in both wicket keeping and batting. He is a human and is bound to come up short sometimes. The wicketkeeper-batsman won Pakistan the first T20I but got out on the first ball in the second. He might have been a little overconfident. Babar Azam is not the type of player who slogs everything. He takes time in the middle to get set. Even though he made a half-century in the second T20I, it was not his typically excellent performance. Sharjeel Khan should not have been brought back into the side but was given a second chance by the PCB who have claimed that they have a zero-tolerance policy on corruption. He might still perform better in future matches but a spot fixer should never be allowed to play the sport.
Adding Fakhar Zaman to the T20I squad after his monumental performances in the ODI series was a great move. Unfortunately, he was unfit to feature in the second T20I. Mohammad Hafeez’s performance has also been different from his recent purple patch. He is however an experienced veteran and can bounce back.
Our middle-order is struggling in T20I’s as well. Haider Ali had a lot of hype behind him but has failed to deliver so far in his career. Faheem Ashraf’s performances have been marred by inconsistency. Mohammad Nawaz did well with the ball but has not hit his stride with the bat yet. Late order batting is another big issue for Pakistan.
On the other hand, no rest for Shaheen Shah is resulting in a decline in his performance. He will surely be embroiled in fitness concerns if he isn’t rested soon. The policy employed by the team management is baffling. The bowlers are not consistent either. The World Cup is just around the corner and the team combination is still not clear. The mega event will be played in India which features high-scoring encounters. We can only hope that Pakistan can improve going forward and salvage a good run during the upcoming World Cup.