MANY would say that the Pakistan cricket team is synonymous with ‘unpredictability’. Certainly, their sketchy performance against the lowly ranked Zimbabwe in the recent T20 series held in Harare reflects this. The three-match series that went down to the wire saw Babar Azam’s men win by the skin of their teeth as they struggled to post competitive scores on the board. They even got dismissed inside 100 runs once. This performance was in sharp contrast to their fine display against a much stronger South Africa just two weeks ago; the Green Shirts had clinched back-to-back ODI and T20 series. Both critics and fans had predicted a 3-0 whitewash for Pakistan against the 11th-ranked Zimbabwe, though they ought to have realised that consistency has never been the hallmark of Pakistan cricket teams. Pakistan’s overdependence on skipper Babar Azam’s and wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan’s form for most of their victories in recent months was once again evident against Zimbabwe. None of the other batsmen made an impression while the bowlers, too, failed to pose any real challenge to the opposition. Though Hasan Ali’s four wickets in the last game was indeed a match-winning effort, all in all Pakistan failed to get their act together as a team which should be of serious concern to the team management and the Pakistan Cricket Board.
Given their chequered form and brittle nerves in pressure games, the team may not stand a chance against leading teams such as England, Australia and India that have formidable squads and have taken limited-overs cricket to a different level altogether. According to experts, Pakistan has not progressed as they should have. The side is still stuck in the 1980s style of cricket, wasting too many scoring opportunities and lagging behind due to their inability to develop pinch hitters who could quickly change the complexion of a match. A change of mindset, therefore, is imperative if Pakistan is to be counted among the major contenders for the World T20 title later this year.
Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2021