Cricket breakdown

Published June 11, 2024

THERE was a feeling that Pakistan had finally turned the corner in their T20 World Cup campaign. Sadly, it was only a fleeting one, and once Pakistan’s batters suffered a meltdown, the work done earlier by their bowlers was rendered useless. But, halfway through the high-voltage fixture against arch-rivals India, there had been genuine hope. Even halfway through their chase of a paltry 120, Pakistan looked well prepared to dust away the cobwebs that had set in, in the aftermath of their shock loss to the US in their opening match. That shock, however, has now turned into disaster; Pakistan are in even more desperate need of other results going their way if they are to progress beyond the Group stage. It is unfathomable how Pakistan lost their way against India. Their defeat led Pakistan Cricket Board chief Mohsin Naqvi to call for a “major surgery” of the national team. The men selected by his expanded seven-member committee proved to be mentally fragile. That fragility impacted the movement of the bat. Pakistan were 37 short of victory with five overs to go — a handful of runs in these days of T20 cricket. They somehow lost by six runs. It was a catastrophic implosion that now leaves Pakistan needing to beat Canada and Ireland in their last two Group ‘A’ matches to have any chance of going through.

What happens next? Both before and after Pakistan’s loss to the US, skipper Babar Azam had indicated his dissatisfaction with the bowlers’ abilities. In reality, it was the batters who proved unequal to the task against India, whose pacer Jasprit Bumrah became unplayable. It laid bare the fact that Pakistan’s batters need improvement, especially the lightweight middle order. But more important, the post-T20 World Cup ‘surgery’ must be conducted by professionals, who have an understanding of the modern game. Only then can Pakistan cricket get back on track.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2024

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