Pakistan cricket: Damning losses behind those miraculous victories

Published March 7, 2016
This Asia Cup opened my eyes to all the warning signs that were blatantly ignored. 
—AP
This Asia Cup opened my eyes to all the warning signs that were blatantly ignored. —AP

I have always been that fan who stays put until the last over counting on the unwritten Pakistani miracle.

More often than not the miracle does present itself. Unpredictable Pakistan, they call us. That’s the word we’re all fond of — unpredictable. And rightly so — our players hang by a thread and end up either giving away a victory or converting a fateful defeat into a glorious triumph.

Either way, my faith in the uncertainty of our cricket team has often resulted in defensive arguments with friends and family.

As fans, we have been conditioned to believe that this team can whirl 11th hour magic spells and save the day.


We continue to overlook some major loopholes in the side because who cares about the recurrent warning signs after a dazzling last minute victory?

At the least, Pakistan’s abominable conduct at the Asia Cup 2016 must put an end to this psychology.

It breaks my heart to concede to this truth but our team has reached a low where its captain and star man appears to be its biggest liability.

How long will we celebrate these last-minute wins?

True, Shahid Afridi has done a lot for the country and our cricket, but there’s only so much we can do to repay that.

Don’t tell me that he has the most wickets in T20 internationals; don’t tell me that he has the most number of catches as a captain. Let’s stop using the same rotten statistics repeatedly to justify his dismal leadership and failure to step up when it really matter.

Take a look: Here are 4 ways Pakistan can defeat India in the Asia Cup

Shahid Afridi averages 17.77 in T20s. He has a dense (and emotional) fan-base, myself included, but it’s time for us to sit down and recall the last time he took charge of the tumbling batting order.

This emotional resolve in Afridi is where the sane mind loses rationality; it is time to change the way we look at this chapter.

As a bowler, he was once an undisputed match-winner. Unfortunately, he lost that touch a long time ago as well.

I am also struggling to find a good reason to stick with coach Waqar Younis.

‘Disappointing’ is a soft word when it comes to consistent mentoring deficiencies of someone with Waqar Younis’ experience and expertise.

I would also agree with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan’s decision to review the management and selection committee, and make amendments to the coaching and selection process.

Although this should have been done long time ago, now is not the time to make any drastic changes as the World Twenty20 is almost here and it would be ludicrous to even consider meddling with the leadership.

See: Pakistan at the Asia Cup: A fly-on-the-wall look

Having said that, we do require minor changes to the side prior to the big tournament, starting with the playing order. Speaking of which, the line-up finally made some sense in the Sri Lanka contest — Sarfraz Ahmed was promoted up the order at number 3 (something we should have made permanent long back), followed by Umar Akmal at 4 and Shoaib Malik at 5.

It is only a requisite to stick to this order for the World T20 and the reasoning for that is unmistakable: playing at their desired respective numbers will be optimal for the batsmen — primarily Akmal and Sarfraz, and it is also imperative that we carry a winning combination forward to India and start the tour on a high.

See: Asia Cup: PCB forms ‘special committee’ to investigate Pakistan’s disastrous run

Even if this lot debugs all its batting glitches and every batsman walks around with an average of 60, the standard Pakistani cricket fan would still long for ruthless bowling spells from the other end. That’s because most often our stellar, world class bowling attack has given us our miracles and it wouldn’t be fulfilling to witness a Pakistani encounter without one.

We embarked on the Asia Cup T20 journey, brimming with confidence in Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz and the others. We concluded the tournament facing a staunch reality — there’s only so much a few individuals can do.

This Asia Cup opened my eyes to all the warning signs that were blatantly ignored.

It has been a collective failure on the part of the proclaimed seniors, the captain, the coach and the selection panel. Let’s not regard this as that wake-up call we get every few months — this is more of a mortifying reflection.

It’s time to stop gambling our fates on 11th hour miracles and button down permanent solutions to our problems.

Here’s hoping that we show some muscle at the ICC WT20. I, for one, will not be surprised if our team flops at the World Cup, and I won’t be surprised if it doesn’t.

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