IRRESPECTIVE of how they have played in this T20 series, the selection of Shoaib and Hafeez is not only tactically indefensible but thought provoking too.

It is in a way admission of failure of the system. If two forty year old are still better than two twenty year old then God save our cricket. Or may be its Misbah, who through his weird picks and logic, is making us jittery! Whatever the reason, it is not looking good.

Misbah needs a coarse correction. Some one will have to remove the stubborn screws in his head to make him see how modern day teams are selected. If time and again, wheel chair players are to be wheeled back into the team set -up, that too in a World Cup year where these two will most likely be bounced out of contest on bouncy Australian pitches, then you might as well shut up batting shops all over Pakistan and shut down academies programme too.

Selection is about having an eye for talent and building the fundamental core of the team around young players especially in T20 format. This platform is about youth and having a more free and experimental take on selection. With youth, it could be bit of a hit and miss at times but Misbah has made it look like a mission to the Mars!

It is how he is coping with lack of resources, recalling of re-cycled players points towards this assumption, how he seems to have given up on young batting talent and how he is not prepared to upgrade their skills is making us believe that we are on a sticky wicket with him.

He is working, and Waqar included, at a basic club level intellect. Both are busy bandaging the daily wounds and looking to exist for the day. Any long term vision has been impaired by the desperate need to win. Only 6 months into the job and they have already switched on the survival mode. And sadly, Babar Azam has been caught in this cross fire of muddled thinking.

I feel for young Pakistan captain. He has been cautioned and reminded through such left field selections that he must not lose and any long term scenario be damned.

Losing is never an option but to be scared of losing and work with such diktat is not how you break in a new captain. Take a look at how Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri through positive bold selections have changed the DNA of Indian cricket. A captain challenges the team and team responds. Babar must challenge himself as a captain too and if he ends up losing a contest or two it should not be the end of the world.

By the way if Misbah was picking a replacement of injured Shikhar Dhawan for New Zealand tour I can bet my bottom dollar that it would have been Sachin Tendulkar and not young Sanju Samson. That’s the sort of cricketing mind we have been exposed to!

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Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2020