Comment : Pakistan walking on a tightrope after successive drubbings (Dawn (Pakistan))

WITH India’s spectacular 130win over South Africa, the ongoing World Cup is getting more open and competitive but Pakistan’s successive defeats at the hands of archrivals India and then the West Indies have not only put the greenshirts on a tightrope but it may well derail their World Cup campaign.
Pakistan latest thrashing at the hands of the Caribbean Islanders by a huge margin of 150 runs in Christchurch was in fact more shambolic than their lacklustre show against India in their opening match at Adelaide with flaws in all departments particularly batting, which has long been Pakistan Achilles’ heel, speaking volumes about inappropriate decisions at the top level.
Now the greenshirts who are yet to come on track in terms of qualifying for the knockout stage in wake of their successive drubbings have to win three matches out of four to keep alive their chances of playing in the quarterfinals with their next matches against Zimbabwe, the UAE, South Africa and associate member Ireland.
Before their World Cup encounter, both Pakistan and the West Indies had been equal on strength, considering the fact that both teams are hit hard by internal politics giving way to their sharp decline in the game of cricket. Notwithstanding, the greenshirts proved to be a pack of cards making their fans throughout the world disappointed not exactly through their defeat but their extremely lacklustre performance against both the West Indies and India.
Critics have already raised serious questions over the playing XI both against India and the West Indies. Captain MisbahulHaq’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss against the West Indies was also surprising as well as Nasir Jamshed’s induction into the side as an extra batsman at the cost of young legspinner Yasir Shah was doomed to failure and it did backfire.
Also, allrounder Shahid Afridi and key middleorder batsman Younis Khan have so far failed to perform to their potential with batsmen like Ahmad Shehazad, Sohaib Maqsood and Umar Akmal also not showing the required alacrity to really help Pakistan’s cause in both the matches.
Besides, a good number of six catches were spilled including two by parttime wicketkeeper Umar Akmal who has been given a chance by the touring selection committee instead of regular wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmad who was not tested in both games.
The bowling attack looked mediocre as Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Khan and Wahab Riaz failed to trouble their rivals. Interestingly, in this World Cup while Pakistan batsmen failed to even complete their 50 overs quota, bowlers who have otherwise been ideal among all three departments of the game also failed to impress.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is yet to comment on the latest defeat at the hands of the West Indies. It is obvious, for it is not easy for anyone to defend such a pathetic performance. But it equally stands to reason that the same team was picked, coached and trained by its own appointed team management.
No one should be exempted from accountability and all those responsible should face media and the public. Particularly, current chief selector Moin Khan should show a brave heart in accepting his responsibility, since he selected the entire team, besides coaches and trainer, thanks to trust reposed in him by previous chairman Najam Sethi who had also given the former Test wicketkeeper the post of manager.
It is worth mentioning that the PCB showered its blessings on Moin for it not only set new examples by giving the former wicketkeeper not only dual job of chief selector and manager but also offering him to leave along with the team for the World Cup as well as New Zealand tour as head of the touring selection committee. This is unique.
Everyone knows Moin still enjoys full power and now he should set a tradition of accepting responsibility. There are also reports that the PCB is seriously considering calling Moin back in that the decision of sending a chief selector to perform as touring selection committee head failed to produce any favourable results.
Though a win against Zimbabwe may well put Pakistan’s campaign back on track, it is the wrong decisions at the top level particularly ones taken by the touring selection committee which has put Pakistan in the chaotic situation. For instance, touring selection committee’s request to give chance to Umar Gul and Sohail Khan as replacements of some injured players belied commonsenseapproach.
When Junaid Khan was declared unfit, the selectors demanded either unfit Umar Gul or underperformer Sohail Tanvir. And to top it all when allrounder Mohammad Hafeez was sent back ahead of the crunch match against India due to calf injury, opener Nasir Jamshed who had no special performance to his credit back home was selected instead of allrounder Fawad Alam whom the PCB actually wanted to send to replace Hafeez.
Nasir was sent just because of his good batting record against India, scoring all three centuries of his career against them. Notwithstanding, Nasir was not played against India but was given chance against the West Indies but he failed.
A short training camp of Pakistan team was held in Lahore before their departure for New Zealand. Taking to media, members of the team and management had urged that Pakistan could perform well only if the players keep unity. Keeping in view the current gloomy situation of the greenshirts, it can easily be assumed that the fear expressed about them seems to be wellplaced if not 100 per cent correct.