LAHORE: Former Test captain Intikhab Alam has expressed his surprise over the shocking 19-run defeat of Pakistan at the hands of a much weaker Zimbabwe in the second T20I in Harare and has urged the players to show consistency and the coaches to put together the best possible combination in view of upcoming T20 World Cup.
Talking to Dawn after Pakistan’s humiliating defeat which leveled the three matches series 1-1, Intikhab said the team lacked consistency and until it was not achieved, Pakistan would face several problems while facing top teams of the world like England, India, New Zealand and Australia.
“It is not a good sign that despite our coaches working with this team for a long time now, they could not analyse the real strength of their players and are still experimenting,” he lamented.
“Look, other countries show more consistency in all departments as their selectors pick the players after thorough consideration,” observed Intikhab. “But we are doing experiments in every match and that is an evidence that you don’t know what exactly you have to achieve and you select players randomely and hope for a fluke performance from them.”
He said though Pakistan had won against South Africa in the ODIs as well as the T20 series, there were many loopholes still in the performance especially in middle-order. He added that the tour selection committee had failed to stabilise the middle-order combination.
“The team management should give clear targets to every player that what it wants from the openers and other players and similar targets should be set for the bowlers,” said the former skipper. “In T20 cricket every team needs to score 55 to 65 runs in the first six overs and this target should be met if you want to set a big total for the rivals,” Intikhab said.
He also criticized captain Babar Azam for winning the toss and electing to field first. “You have won the last series against a big team of South Africa but such a decision of opting to field first shows you are defensive against a rather weak side like Zimbabwe,” he said. He also pointed out that the first T20I was also a close game and had Zimbabwe held a couple of catches, the story would have been different.
He agreed that pitches and weather in Zimbabwe were different to South Africa but “as professionals a player have to be adjusted with playing conditions because this is demand of international cricket.”
Intikhab advised the Pakistan team to remove all the flaws before the World Cup which is not very far and the time is running short. He admitted that the team management was relying more on the players who performed in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) which was not an ideal strategy.
“For every country the performance in the domestic cricket system is most important in the selection of the national team as leagues like PSL are not the real yardstick of assessing a player’s strength. If the selectors are relying on the PSL, then it is a mistake as we have to make our domestic system stronger and groom the players for tough and pressure games in international cricket,” he concluded.
Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2021