While we have consistently done well in the shortest format, our achievements in five-day cricket have been few and far between
It’s an open secret that the Pakistan cricket team is the most unpredictable side in the game of cricket. The Greenshirts are known for being unpredictable due to their tendency to give strong performances followed by poor ones, especially in Test cricket.
Currently Pakistan stand sixth in the ICC Test team rankings and stand second and fourth in the ODI and T20 rankings, respectively. The gap between the Test and ODI rankings shows that Pakistani players don’t have the patience for the longest version of the game. Test cricket needs temperament, skills and patience, while the shortest version mainly requires power hitting. The Pakistanis are specialists in the shortest format of the game.
The performance of the Pakistan cricket team in Test matches can vary over time and is influenced by various factors. Pakistan has produced some talented cricketers and has had periods of success in Test cricket.
For a long time, Pakistan have not won a Test series against any top 5 team. The Greenshirts won in South Africa in January 2021 when they beat the hosts in the Test series 2-0.
Since then Pakistan played seven Test series against Zimbabwe (away), West Indies (away), Bangladesh (away), Australia (home), Sri Lanka (away), England (home) and New Zealand (home). They won only against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, drew against West Indies, Sri Lanka and New Zealand and lost home series against Australia (0-1) and England (0-3) - the first ever home whitewash against the latter.
Pakistan traditionally have not had a good run in Test cricket, especially since the early 90s. We have been considered good at ODI cricket and just competitive enough in Tests. One of the main reasons is the lack of stability in the team and coaching staff.
Pakistan have struggled with consistency in their batting lineup, which can lead to low scores and batting collapses. This inconsistency can be attributed to various factors, including lack of technique, poor shot selection, and inadequate temperament.
Pakistan’s batsmen have historically struggled against high-quality pace bowling, especially when playing on pitches that offer bounce and movement. This weakness can make it challenging for them to post competitive scores or chase targets.
The development structure of cricket in Pakistan has faced challenges, including a lack of infrastructure, limited opportunities for young players, and instability in the cricket administration. These factors can hinder the overall development of players and impact the performance of the national team in Test cricket.
This has limited their exposure to different playing conditions, such as seaming wickets in countries like England, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, which can make it difficult to adapt and perform consistently.
The management has relied heavily on a few key players in the past, and when they have failed to perform, the team has struggled as a whole. This lack of depth in the team has made it difficult for Pakistan to maintain a consistent level of performance. Pakistan’s domestic cricket structure also needs improvement. It’s not providing enough opportunities for young talent to come through. It’s not providing the pathway for the players to make it to the international level.
The four-day domestic matches in Pakistan are not widely followed. The simple reason is that people have no interest in a game played between WAPDA and NBP or other departments, unless both teams have huge stars. The matches are mostly tedious and non-competitive, and the ground conditions are pathetic.
Another reason for the downfall of Test cricket is T20 leagues that make Test cricket less popular around the world. Many Pakistani cricketers don’t take part in domestic cricket for “personal reasons” but always remain available for money-making leagues abroad, even in non-Test playing countries. It has been said time and again that the domestic structure of cricket in Pakistan needs a radical overhaul. Only then will we be able to fully overcome the issues facing the sport. If attention is not given to domestic structure, Pakistan will continue struggling in Test cricket.
The Pakistan T20 cricket team has been considered more successful and consistent than the Test team in recent years. This perception can be attributed to a variety of factors, including the team’s performances, player adaptability, and the evolving dynamics of the game.
One of the key reasons for the success of Pakistan’s T20 team is the availability of players who excel in the shortest format of the game. Pakistan has produced several outstanding T20 specialists who have made significant contributions to the team’s success. These players possess specific skills suited for the fast-paced and aggressive nature of T20 cricket. With their ability to score quick runs, bowl economical spells, and execute innovative shots, these players have helped Pakistan achieve success in T20 cricket.
Pakistan has performed admirably in T20Is, winning matches against strong opposition and consistently reaching the knockout stages of major tournaments. The team’s success in T20Is has led to a positive perception of the T20 team as being better than the Test team.
Pakistan has a rich history of producing exceptional fast bowlers, and this tradition has translated well into the T20 format. The likes of Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah and Hasan Ali have consistently troubled opposition batsmen with their pace, swing, and variations.
Additionally, spinners like Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim have proven to be effective in containing runs and taking wickets in the middle overs. This bowling strength gives Pakistan an edge in T20 matches, where restricting the opposition’s scoring rate is crucial.
T20 cricket demands a proactive and aggressive approach, and the Pakistan T20 team has shown a willingness to adapt to this style of play. The batsmen have displayed the ability to score at a brisk pace and clear the boundaries regularly. Players like Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, and Fakhar Zaman have provided stability at the top, while power hitters such as Iftikhar Ahmed, Asif Ali and Shoaib Malik have added depth to the batting lineup. This aggressive mindset has helped Pakistan post imposing totals and chase down challenging targets in T20 matches.
Pakistan has enjoyed success in various T20 tournaments around the world. The Pakistan Super League (PSL), the country’s premier T20 league, has provided a platform for young talent to showcase their skills and gain valuable experience. Many players who have performed well in the PSL have subsequently been selected for the national T20 team. Moreover, Pakistan has achieved notable victories in international T20 tournaments, including winning the ICC World T20 in 2009.