PAKISTAN decision to drop Yunis Khan finally paid divi dends, small in the beginning but huge in the second match against UAE at Napier in Newzeland where they recorded a somewhat satisfying 129 victory in their fourth outing Heavweight Nasir Jamshed now too need to be rested. He is not only heavyweight in the real sense of the word, but is actually a deadwood.
A complete disaster so far. Yet reports from Down Under are discomforting . Skipper Misbah is unwilling to drop him. Why? He owes explanation to countrymen. Jamshed failed in all the innings so far, and against the lowlyrated UAE, which is nothing but a punching bag, like Afghanistan in the opposite group. Nasir could not stand upto pressure. Then field lapses from him are too frequent and costly to ignore. Yesterday also, he failed to hold a catch and then fumbled near the boundary as well to concede another run. He must reduce his weight in order to be true athlete, which he is not at present.
Most likely, as reports from World Cup venue suggest, he will be persevered with. On whose “sifarish” was he called to join the team, and whose backing does he enjoy? Pakistan cricket board needs to answer. People, a cricket crazy nation, have the right to know. They become jubilant at their team’s victory even it is against UAE or Zimbabwe, but display long faces, some just cannot hold back their tears at their national side’s poor showing.
It is really surprising as to what is the role of the normal wicket keeper Sarfaraz. Umar Akmal is showing improvement, taking five catches against Zimbabwe, but dropping two also off Shahid Afridi. Such are unpardonable acts. He also fails to anticipate ball movement, and lets the astray ball travel to boundary for byes and leg byes. He is not at all agile, and has poor track record against spinners, which is the real test of any wicket keeper.
Look at Wasim Bari not a very good batsman, but if he stops 100 or more byes through his athletic dives and rolls behind the wicket, he saves that much run for his side to the total. Sarfaraz is a regular, reliable wicket keeper, and a prolific bat too. Why the concept of a nonregular wicket keeper is being pursued, we just cannot understand.
The tour management committee, comprising manager, captain and coach, has no choice now but to switch on to a new combination. The ageold theory of persisting with the winning combination, is not a Holy Commandment, that it cannot be disturbed. In the present form, Pakistan team still has several question marks against its performance.
The coming match on Saturday against South Africa, will not be a lolly pop. Proteas have been doing impressively in the current world competition. Their batsmen Hashim Aamla, A B Develiers, and others all are in great form. To add to Pakistan’s woes, sitting still behind West Indies on the points table for low runrate, will be worse if Irfan, the man who got his team very early breakthrough with his fiery spell yesterday, looks doubtful for next match. His hamstring injury hopefully will not be serious.
But that is only optimism. It is reality that matters. Once Irfan was back to dressing room after bowling a brief opening spell, Sohail and Rahat, were not that impressive. Khurram and Shaimoon had an impressive 83run partnership between them. Credit goes to Afridi for showing his class. His 21 off just 7 balls, was punctuated with powerful hits to a rocketing 4, and then two towering sixes, and then Wahab Riaz went over the fence for the only ball he received. Wahab Riaz deserves a double credit for his marvellous spell/ He exploited the conditions to the maximum best, and helped contain the rivals.
Satisfaction can be drawn from the fact that yesterday middle order clicked for the first time. Haris Sohail’s personal 70 off 83 balls, apart from decorated with 5 fours and 1six, it provided a much needed strength to team innings, helped solidified it on solid ground for Misbah and Sohaib Maqsood to cash on. Sohaib was impressive too. His 45 off 31 balls was a grand display of quality strokeplay. He hit 4 fours and 2 sixes and added 75 precious runs in another important partnership.
Coming back to form of Ahmad Shahzad augurs well in the closing stages of the league matches. His scintillating 93 of 105 balls, with 8 four and a six, was indeed laudable and encouragement for the future. Hopefully he remains daunted and determined in the crucial tie against formidable South Africans. They have strong batting line up and very fine attack. It wont be UAE like affair. Our players must be mentally strong and fully relaxed and prepared to come off well in the tie, fixed for 7th March.
Not giving credit to Misbah, leading from the front throughout the last six months or so, will be dishonesty. He played gem of a knock of 65 in 49 balls with 4 fours and two sixes. It was because of the quartet Ahmad Shahzad, who laid the platform for onslaught in later stages, Sohaib Maqsood, Haris Sohail, and Misbah, not to forget Afridi, that hepled Pakistan cross the 300 mark for the first time in the prize tournament.
Pakistan has been improving with every outing. That credit can never be denied to them. But responsibility demands much bigger effort, and more determined display in the match against Proteas, and then never be complacent against Ireland, who we will be facing on 15th as last match of the league.
Pakistan has to improve its runrate. Had they been able to bundle out UE for 195, they would have been higher in order on points table with a better run rate than the carribeans, but there is still time. Hopefully we will utilise it to our best advantage.