Mohammad Asif’s father gave an interview following allegations of Asif being involved in match fixing. In this interview, Asif’s father, a villager from near Sheikhupura, Punjab, said, “Killa Thokka Hai!!” which translates into, “A nail has been hammered”. It is a phrase of Punjabi which means that someone has hammered a nail, or in other words, damaged, destroyed, decimated, someone or something. Asif’s father was alleging that the British media has attempted to levy these vile allegations because of Asif’s brilliance as a bowler.
As the series ends the results appear unpleasant to the Pakistani fan. Pakistan lost the Test series 3-1, they lost both T20’s and then lost the ODI series 3-2. In the ODI’s (which is the focus of this thread)it is difficult to pinpoint one area where Pakistan succeeded or failed. Fielding generally was unimpressive. Under pressure situations, even good fielders like Fawad Alam, Shafiq, Hafeez and Afridi dropped catches and fumbled.
When Pakistan was blessed with performers like Wasim, Waqar, Anwar, Inzamam, Latif etc you overlooked their pathetic fielding. However now, since neither Pakistan’s bowling nor batting are of the same standard, poor fielding tends to hit where it hurts. There are no doubts about it- Pakistan’s fielding is a genuine match loser. One pathetic keeper, Akmal is enough to lose a team matches. Imagine what happens when you have 11 Akmals on the field? This makes you wonder what the hell Ijaz Ahmed is doing. Although rumour has it Ijaz Ahmed and Salim Malik have links with match fixers, apart from this you cannot blame the PCB for appointing Ahmed as the fielding coach. That is because Ahmed has probably been Pakistan’s most prolific fielder. Not many unfortunately come to mind.
In terms of batting performances, there were some revelations, but not of the drastic kind.
Otherwise, Pakistan just seemed to re-establish the status quo. Starting from top of the order, Akmal was fluent for some patches, irresponsible in others. Hafeez was very slow, but was a revelation when you consider that he succeeded in seeing off the new ball in almost every match. Shafiq looked classy in 2 knocks, but could not be consistent. Yousuf was a failure. Alam was consistent, but could not play Swann. U Akmal performed below average. Afridi was exactly like how his career chart shows him to be- inconsistent, brilliant in one match but directionless in another. Razzaq was outstanding in one match, but poor in others, which is nothing new for Razzaq.
Shoaib Akhtar appeared to regain form but looked overweight. He is nowhere near full fitness. His problem is that he is captivated within a vicious circle. He is not able to play consistent cricket due to his weight.
And, his weight will not be under control unless he plays consistent cricket. This dilemma means that the captain needs to select him only in T20’s mainly and in those ODI’s which are played in cold climates. Shoaib Akhtar has many fans who vociferously defend him when he is criticised, but it must be remembered that he is a pathetic fielder and his utility to the team diminishes because of his poor fielding.
Gul seemed to be very effective in conditions suiting reverse swing. Again, although Gul is a fit and his commitment is not in question, he seemed to strike only when the conditions suit him. When Shoaib Akhtar was at his peak he used to take wickets on any pitch, in any conditions. Wasim and Waqar were also blessed with that ability. Nevertheless, Gul’s performance was praiseworthy especially in that match where he took 6 wickets. Ajmal was a disappointment and he was clearly overshadowed by his English counterpart, Swann.
Speaking of Swann, he is rightly being termed as the no 1 spinner in
the world. He has a simple action but he spins the ball prodigiously. With the amount of spin and good length, you are basically looking at a bowler like Murali, only with a clean action. Swann is a wicket taking machine. Reading him would be very difficult because unlike bowlers like Murali and Mendis he keeps things simple and is just blessed with fingers that grip and twist really well. Swann destroyed Pakistan.
The positives were few and far between but Afridi’s captaincy has to be one of them. Firstly, this was a team that did not show factionalism, at least on the field. Players going through bad patches, improved and made positive contributions, such as Akmal and Akhtar. The most encouraging aspect was Mohammad Hafeez, whose bowling was penetrative and economical. In batting, Hafeez was resilient, albeit slow. However, allover he was the revelation of this tour for Pakistan and much credit goes to his captain for motivating him and persisting with him.
This thread is not about the media controversies, but Afridi
succeeded in shifting the focus of the players on cricket. A lesser leader would have crumbled under the circumstances, but Afridi showed great character. Therefore, he should take back his Test retirement decision and become captain of the Test team once again. It is rumoured he has hinted a return to Test cricket. Afridi’s job is not just to perform as a reliable all rounder and inspire his team to victory. He needs to play his part in eliminating corruption from the team.
The England team were dominant throughout the series. Their team and media has “killa thokka hai” Pakistan. One can refute their allegations of ball tampering and match fixing, citing lack of evidence, but such is the nature of media coverage that a headline, a photograph or an insinuation can become much more than that and rest in someone’s memory as facts which need to be disproved by strong evidence. Due to this truism, Pakistan has become a laughing stock in the cricketing world. Even if the Pakistani players are innocent, the actions of their cricket board are immature, irresponsible and uncouth.
This tour will definitely be remembered for the wrong reasons. With able management, Pakistan could have dealt with these allegations more appropriately. However, this is what happens when an organisation is run on the basis of nepotism, corruption and regionalism. You get someone like Ijaz Butt who just cannot apparently take sensible decisions. For once, a series review by Legslip makes a stronger case of removal/replacement of management, than of individual players. Malik, Misbah, Farhat and Butt are out which has strengthened the team, but now the corrupt Board needs to be replaced.
The match fixing allegations and more recently, allegations of Shoaib Akhtar tampering the ball, have united Pakistani commentators. However, Pakistanis now need to rise above the occasion and win hearts and minds of Western people and their media. This is because, adopting a tit for that strategy and counter allegations will not improve cricket in Pakistan. Pakistan is outnumbered. Only by displaying maturity and character will Pakistanis be able to assert themselves on Western and Indian media.