A forgettable year

December 29, 2019

Pakistan’s cricket team performed poorly in all three formats of the game in 2019

The last sun of 2019 will set the day after tomorrow, taking along all the good and bad memories that must have taught us many things and will certainly help us in turning the new year into a more fruitful one.

Pakistan cricket team ended the year by winning at Test against Sri Lanka in Karachi, the second of a series that marked the return of Test cricket to the country.

The first Test in Rawalpindi ended in a draw as most of the days were affected by rain.

Pakistan not only won the second Test in Karachi by a healthy margin of 263 runs but also won the series (1-0). With the series win, Pakistan moved from eighth to the seventh position in the ICC Test Team Ranking.

The Karachi Test was a memorable one in many respects. Pakistan’s top four batsmen scored centuries in the second innings.

It was just the second occasion when the top four scored centuries. India’s Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Rahul Dravid, and Sachin Tendulkar were the first to do that — against Bangladesh in 2007.

Fast bowler Naseem Shah became the second youngest bowler to take five wickets in a Test inning.

Opener Abid Ali was the hero of the series with 321 runs, averaging 160.50. He scored centuries in both Test matches. Abid became the only male player in cricket history to score a hundred on both ODI and Test debuts.

But overall, 2019 was not a good year for Pakistan cricket. During the year, the Green-shirts played six Tests, 25 ODIs and 10 T20Is.

Pakistan played two Tests each against South Africa, Australia and Sri Lanka, lost four, drew one and the only win came against the Islanders in Karachi.

Pakistan started the year with Cape Town Test against South Africa in January. The hosts won the match by 9 wickets. Proteas also won the Johannesburg Test, by 107 runs.

After 10 months gap, Pakistan played Tests in November on Australian soil. Pakistan lost both Tests by innings, in Brisbane and Adelaide.

Since winning in Sydney in November 1995, Pakistan have lost 14 straight Tests in Australia. It was also the fifth consecutive time that Pakistan faced whitewash in a Test series in Australia.

Babar Azam was the highest run getter for Pakistan with 616 runs in six Tests, including three hundred and three half-centuries at an average of 68.44. He left behind Indian skipper Virat Kohli in 2019 who scored 612 runs in eight matches. With consistent performances, Babar has moved up to career-best sixth place in the ICC Test Batsmen rankings.

Opener Shan Masood was behind Babar with 440 runs in six matches, averaging 40 with one hundred and two fifties.

It was not a good year for Pakistani bowlers. Young Shaheen Shah Afridi remained the top wicket-taker with 17 wickets, averaging 29.

It was Yasir Shah’s worst year as he took only six wickets in four matches with a high average of 101.33. Out of the six, he claimed four wickets in one innings against Australia.

Marnus Labuschagne of Australia was the most successful Test batsman in 2019. He scored 1022 runs in 10 matches, averaging 68.13 with the help of three hundred and six fifties.

Australian bowlers dominated the year. Pat Cummins remained on the top with 54 wickets in 11 matches. Spinner Nathan Lyon and fast bowler Mitchell Starc were behind him with 41 and 40 wickets in 11 and 7 Test matches, respectively.

In ODIs, too, the Green-shirts were not in a great form. They played 25 ODIs, won only 9 and lost 15. Surprisingly, Pakistan also faced whitewash (0-3) in a home series against Sri Lanka.

Pakistan lost all six matches against Australia, four against England, three against South Africa and one each against West Indies and India.

Babar remained the top scorer with 1092 runs in 20 matches at an average of 60.66 with the help of three centuries and six fifties.

Openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman were behind him with 904 and 683 runs, respectively. Imam scored three hundreds and three half-centuries, while Fakhar managed one hundred and five fifties.

Indian opener Rohit Sharma was the most successful batsman of the year with 1490 runs in 28 matches. Kohli (1377, 26 matches) and West Indies’ Shai Hope (1345, 28 matches) were the second and the third, respectively.

Shaheen took 27 wickets for Pakistan, averaging 22.88. He claimed four wickets in an ODI twice and five wickets once.

Muhammad Amir was behind him with 23 scalps in 15 appearances, averaging 25.65. Spinner Shadab Khan was third with 17 wickets in 14 matches at a high average of 41.11.

Indian fast bowler Mohammed Shami ended 2019 as the highest wicket taker with 42 wickets from 21 matches. This is the second time that Shami ended as the highest wicket taker in a calendar year. He was also at the top in 2014 when he grabbed 38 wickets.

New Zealand left-arm pacer Trent Boult was behind him with 38 wickets from 20 ODIs at 23.97. Lockie Ferguson was third with 35 from 17 games at 23.71.

Pakistan stayed at the top in T20Is despite losing eight out of 10 matches this year.

Babar was the most successful batsman for Pakistan with 374 runs in 10 matches. He scored four fifties and his average was 41.55. Spinner Imad Wasim and Amir took seven wickets each.

Overall, Ireland’s Paul Stirling remained the highest run-getter in 2019 with 748 runs in 20 T20I, averaging 41.55.

Kohli scored 2455 runs in all three formats. His overall average was 64.60, with seven centuries and 14 fifties.

Rohit amassed 2442 runs across formats in 2019. He hit 10 hundred and 10 half-centuries. He surpassed former Sri Lankan master blaster Sanath Jayasuriya’s 22-year-old record for most runs as an opener in a calendar year across formats. Babar was third with 2082 runs in 36 matches. He scored six centuries and 13 fifties, averaging 57.83.

Pat Cummins took 94 wickets in 34 matches. For Pakistan, Shaheen remained the most successful bowler with 47 scalps in 21 matches.

NOTE: All statistics are updated till 22nd December, 2019, Pakistan v Sri Lanka second Test.

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Pakistan cricket: A forgettable year