KARACHI: Former Pakistan cricketers Ramiz Raja and Shoaib Akhtar slammed Shoaib Malik after the Pakistan captain claimed that results against Australia didn’t matter following the team’s second straight loss in the ODI series in the United Arab Emirates.
Pakistan lost by eight wickets for a second time in three days in Sharjah on Sunday to fall 2-0 behind in the five-match series.
Following another insipid bowling performance, Malik — leading the side in place of the rested Sarfraz Ahmed — claimed the series was about testing the team’s bench strength ahead of the World Cup this summer.
“To be honest, I think early strikes in our bowling is what we are lacking,” said Malik. “Overall, there are positives as we fought until the last ball. Since we have rested a lot of our players, we are trying other players and these things happen in international cricket, especially when you are playing a big team. It’s not about winning the series, it’s about testing our bench strength.”
His comments drew the ire of Ramiz who termed them unbelievable.
“I couldn’t believe it, because if we don’t care about the result, then why are we playing the series in the first place,” said the former batsman on a video on his YouTube channel Ramiz Speaks.
“If we don’t tell our youngsters how important their innings of fifty or hundred runs is, if you don’t tell them how it contributes to the success of the team, how will you create new champions,” questioned Ramiz, a member of Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup winning squad.
Shoaib echoed Ramiz’s views, saying it was wrong of Malik to give such comments.
“He said wrong things during the presentation ceremony,” Shoaib, working as an analyst for the match at PTV Sports, said. “We should learn that we need to say the right things at the right time as that matters a lot.”
Shoaib added that the current performances of the team were “embarassing”, saying that the team needed to target setting bigger scores while batting.
Ramiz, meanwhile, called the team to change their mindset and come back fighting in the third match of the series in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
A bright spot for Pakistan in the second match was seeing 18-year-old debutant fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain briefly testing Australian openers Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja, who largely enjoyed a stroll in their chase of 285.
Hasnain stared Khawaja down after his first ball in international cricket went whistling past the Aussie’s ears. Another bouncer clattered into the helmet of Finch, who later copped one to the groin off the inside edge.
Hasnain’s fierce spell sparked a subdued Sharjah crowd into excitement for a short while and left legendary Pakistan paceman Waqar Younis thoroughly impressed.
“He’s got a very strong action, he’s fit,” said Waqar, in the commentary box for the game. “He’s got a big future in front of him.”
Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2019