- Some key takeaways
Pakistan is out of the running for the ongoing Cricket World Cup that has entered its final knockout stage. Watching the first few matches that included a crushing defeat by seven wickets at the hands of West Indies; no one could have predicted that Pakistan would finish fifth, winning all of its last four matches. The poor start in the tournament resulted in a negative net run rate, resulting in New Zealand, who also secured 11 points, making it to the semi-finals. That we were banking on India and New Zealand to beat England in their respective matches against the host side in order for us to secure a spot in the top four, conditional upon beating Bangladesh by a huge margin, was a bit too much to ask. And this dependence on another team helping us out perhaps best sums up what sort of a cricketing side Pakistan has become– not confident in its own abilities, unfit, playing scared and having to deal more with the politics of the game emanating from the board as opposed to focusing on the game itself. They have no one to blame but themselves. Good cricket was played in the end but it wasn’t smart cricket. Had they lost more respectably to the West Indies, or pulverised a weak Afghanistan team to get the NRR in the green, we would have made it.
There are some positives however. The is no shortage of raw talent in the country and Shaheen Afridi, the highly-talented 19-year old pacer, is proof of that– he has a long career ahead of him. Babar Azam has matured into a technically sound dependable batsman. Imad Wasim has emerged as a much-needed all-rounder in the squad. Some players have been badly exposed as well. Shoaib Malik, who has now retired from ODIs, had no business being in the squad in the first place- Haris Sohail should have played both the matches where Malik scored ducks. Muhammad Hafeez’s time is also up; his so-called “experience” was of little use both with the bat and ball. Sarfaraz needs to stop riding the 2017 Champions Trophy wave; he needs to either step-up his game, or step aside and let someone else take charge. Some serious introspection and reshuffling should follow starting with the selection committee downwards.