Toothless ultimatums

September 20, 2015

What does the PCB chairman want? The Indians heard him the first time. They may not like us very much but they tend to read what we say about them

Toothless ultimatums

I’m totally confused what Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, wants us to know about the India series. Some weeks back he had given them an ultimatum that the Indian cricket board (BCCI) should inform by end August whether they are coming or not so Pakistan can execute Plan ‘B’. It made sense. You need three months to sell an alternative, especially one that is to replace an Indo-Pak series which frankly can be sold overnight to sponsors.

But then that deadline was soon extended to September. ‘Tell us or we’ll go for our Plan B’ came the warning. Nothing from BCCI except they don’t want to play cricket with us in these conditions. Loud and clear.

A week or so back Shaharyar emerged with another ultimatum whereby the Indians were given two months to give an answer!! Otherwise Pakistan would switch to Plan ‘B’. BCCI must have shivered. Yet nothing from them. In response Shahryar let them know who is boss by firing Intikhab Alam and Zakir Khan from their posts.

In between all this show of ultimatums came clarifications that Pakistan can live without India, that we will not go down on our knees and yet also the private message to Sartaj Aziz to see if India would come. Unfortunately it was Sartaj who ended up not going so that message was never relayed.

I mean, what does the gentleman want? The Indians heard him the first time. I can bet my life on it since it was posted on all the media. The Indians may not like us very much but they tend to read what we say about them.

Now there is a new twist. First there was the news that he had asked Zaheer Abbas, the International Cricket Council (ICC) president, to try to get the job done on his behalf. "I met with Zaheer Abbas the other day and have asked him to use his influence as the ICC President and former captain to persuade the Indian board to confirm the series against us in December," said Shaharyar, as quoted by NDTV.

That was denied by him 48 hours after it was published and that too on the inquiry of a journalist. "We have not asked for Zaheer’s help for the revival of Pak-India series. He has gone to India as ICC president but he will inform us about the updates of the series on his return," he said.

To be sure there will be more updates from him as well based on the updates that Zaheer provides, which will be that they listened to him and then asked him whether he’d like tea or coffee and what time was his flight back and that they still remembered with joy how he had taken century after double century off their bowling attack on Pakistani pitches. After all Indians love to be bashed by Pakistan don’t they? Who better to ask them to come again!

Zaheer, of course, was the man who had earlier came up with the solution that if the Indians don’t want to play us in Pakistan or on neutral grounds Pakistan can always play their ‘home’ series in India. Way to go for patriotism.

Talking of home, it has been a delightful tournament in Rawalpindi. The best part were the pitches which allowed scores of 160 plus easy yet helped the bowlers who had something in them. The ball carried at a good height to the wicketkeeper and spun for the spinners. Most of the matches were interesting and though the competition was all local but the performances had to be admired.

Shocking was the exit of the Lahore Whites with top Pakistani players and pleasantly refreshing was the charge to the final of the Karachi Blues who were told to play the qualifying tournament. And like England in 50-over World Cups Karachi remain the best team never to have lifted the trophy. Always the bridesmaid never the bride as they say about England.

I feel the Karachi Blues should have gone into the tournament with Sarfraz Ahmed putting himself up to open. There has been talk through the country ever since the start of the 2015 World Cup earlier this year that he should open. And when he did he delivered. Now that he was captain, Sarfraz should have gone in first with either Khurram Manzoor or Khalid Latif.

Now those who don’t want to send him up will point to the fact that when he was captain he himself preferred to bat at No 7 even in a Twenty20 game. The Karachi coach should have ensured that he opened. It would have benefited Karachi tactically too as they could have played an all rounder or an extra bowler in place of someone like Shahzaib Hasan.

What was worrying was that Shahid Afridi hardly rocked. In the final too he seemed to be all at loss. He needs to be captain to perform it seems; something about being an ordinary cricketer just doesn’t get him all wired up. It was the same in the 2015 World Cup and now here. Ironic that he was playing under Sarfraz Ahmed whom he doesn’t play in his Twenty20 team when captaining Pakistan.

Nevertheless full marks to the Peshawar lads. Twice they have triumphed without any big stars though in the two Imrans, Rizwan and Riffatullah they have a solid quartet. And to think they were close to elimination in their last group game. Just shows what the will to win can achieve.

Toothless ultimatums