Waqar Younis was asked what happened in the last 2 ODI’s and he actually spoke bluntly about the issue, and hinted that some players were under the verge of being dropped and they had to perform. Of course, he was talking about Misbah ul Haq. Ever since the series against India during which Misbah was Pakistan’s best batsman, Misbah seems to have lost his touch. He looks lazy on the field and appears to be uninterested in ensuring Pakistan fights and retains some pride. Indeed he appears to be playing for himself only. He underperformed in the ODI series against Australia, but then he played a good knock in the final ODI and remained not out, which catapulted his average into the 40s. He then had a poor T20 tournament, although it is accepted he did not get many chances to bat. But after his performance in this ODI series where he only played for himself, PCB should definitely drop him permanently. But the way things work in Pakistan, Misbah is being hailed as a good batsman again and his selection for the Champions Trophy next month is definitely on the cards. If the PCB can’t discern this pattern whereby some players only play for themselves and don’t support the captain, then the selectors might as well consider them automatic selections. Why did the management drop Malik and Misbah a few times in this ODI series if it keeps giving them chances like these to play selfishly and cement their places in the team? It is so obvious from the way Misbah played that he was only interested in remaining not out, in the 5th ODI. His strike rate was almost 100 when he came out to bat, but dropped into the 80s when he was on 40, because he only wanted to reach his 50. And then he could never improve his strike rate towards the end. It was pathetic to see Misbah blocking the balls and running singles when the time had come to slog.
Another loser is Shoaib Malik, who was dropped after 3 failures. Malik only made 21 runs in 3 matches and his
bowling also made no impact. Malik appears so clueless against the new ball that you wonder why he plays international cricket. It is accepted that all Pakistani batsmen, to some extent or the other, struggle to play the moving ball but Malik appears especially vulnerable. Why is the selection committee so blind that they can’t see he is a nothing player who makes no meaningful contribution and plays selfishly? How many potential Umer Akmals and Fawad Alams must have been destroyed by the PCB in order to retain Shoaib Malik!
Although Malik and Misbah are the main problems in the Pakistan side, Younis Khan does not make a solid impression as captain. Younis failed on the seaming tracks of Dambulla but his performance was better on the flatter Colombo pitches. Younis has made some unforgivable errors in captaincy, such as using a spinner to bowl in Powerplays in the last few overs of an innings. It is debated how much authority Younis actually has. Whereas the PCB reports that Younis has considerable authority, Younis himself has given statements to the media where he is clearly unhappy with some players in the team and he has also complained of too much interference from the coach, the manager and the vice captain. Younis did play two outstanding knocks in the final 2 ODI’s and he showed fighting spirit. He was easily Pakistan’s best batsman in this series.
Young Umer Akmal also performed commendably. Unlike his team mate Fawad
Alam, Umer was lucky to have been called to the international stage at such a young age. However, Umer showed a lot of panache and character when he made his century. It seems Malik and Misbah don’t mind Umer Akmal as much. They vehemently opposed Fawad Alam’s inclusion when Fawad’s introduction on the international arena was being considered. One wonders why?
Speaking of Fawad Alam, he had a disappointing series. Although showing some mettle in the 1st ODI when he was Pakistan’s top scorer amongst all recognised batsman, Fawad looked clueless in the next 2 games. Still, it was unfair to drop him after only 2 bad games. It seemed the management did not want to isolate the underperforming Malik, so Fawad was also made a victim of this agenda. Fawad should never bank on having support from the seniors or having some kind of permanent position in the team because of his background. He needs to perform like Miandad if he wants to stay. Otherwise, he will disappear into oblivion like Asim Kamal.
Bowling wise Pakistan was better. Aamer and Ajmal were Pakistan’s best bowlers and one would hope Aamer is not burned out. Rana and Rao bowled well in patches. Pakistan was pathetic on this tour because of its batting, so the bowling will not be considered any further.
This is definitely another new low in Pakistan cricket. Malik and Misbah are ruining team spirit and underperforming. However, this series has also exposed how fragile Pakistani batsmen are on seaming tracks. With two able batsmen in the side, U Akmal and Alam, it would have made a lot of sense to drop Malik and Misbah and persist with those two. However, it is already being reported that Malik and Misbah will make into the Champions Trophy squad. The PCB has learned nothing and this tour of Sri Lanka proved to be a waste of time. The team management seems to have a different agenda to seeing the players develop and seeing more fighting spirit from the players. What else can explain the constant selection of Malik and Misbah in the Pakistan team? It is very likely that the Pakistan team will underperform in the Champions Trophy.