In the world of cricket, Pakistan may be the only team to show considerable variation in performance within days. After winning a match comfortably, in the next match they can surprise not only their fans but also the opponents with their shocking underperformance.The Green-shirts did it again in Zimbabwe. After winning the first T20, Pakistan shockingly went down in the second. While chasing only 119, they were bowled out for 99, the lowest score Pakistan have failed to chase down.
The visitors suffered a massive middle and lower-order collapse as the last seven wickets fell just for 21 runs in 26 balls to crash from 78-3 to 99 bowled out.
What is the reason behind it? Winning and losing is part of the game, but the way Pakistani batsmen threw their wickets was disappointing. They lost their wickets one after another on short balls. Most players got out while trying to hit the ball out of the ground.
Maybe Pakistani batsmen believe that runs can be scored only through boundaries.
A coach should not only improve the players’ skills but should also teach them how to keep calm in crunch situations.
If we review Pakistan cricket team performance in South Africa and Zimbabwe, it feels that problems started from the final team selection.
It was a surprising decision to select four openers for the T20 format. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan are the first choice openers with satisfactory performances. Why were Fakhar Zaman and Sharjeel Khan selected? Are they useful in the middle-order? Record shows that both performed well at the top, never in the middle order.
Mohammad Hafeez played at four while as an experienced player he could be more beneficial as a finisher. He has proved his finishing skills multiple times.
Haider Ali got chances in the lower order, although he did well at the top order in domestic cricket, Pakistan Super League and even his early matches for the national team.
In T20Is, Haider has played 15 matches, scored 256 runs with an average of just 19.69 with two fifties.
Asif Ali is another surprising inclusion in the squad as he has been failing for a long time. Although he has played 29 T20Is, he has never managed a fifty. His highest score is 44 not out and he averages only 16.38.
Did the Green-shirts really deserve to win any of the recent five series played against South Africa and Zimbabwe?
Except a clear win in the Test series against South Africa at home, Pakistan suffered defeats in the T20I series at home and away against what really was the Proteas’ second string and in the recent T20I series against Zimbabwe.
Since the appointment of Misbah-ul-Haq as coach, the unpredictability has increased. From fans to critics, nobody can predict if Pakistan can beat even 11th ranked Zimbabwe.
In his first assignment against Sri Lanka’s weak team, the Green-shirts won 3-0 in the T20I series on their home ground. Zimbabwe defeated us in an ODI in Lahore and then South Africa nearly won the T20I series on our soil as well.
Most of Pakistan’s defeats occur because of the failures of the batsmen. The young batsmen lack experience and face difficulty in playing on different pitches.
There is a lack of planning on execution and too much confusion about the players’ role in the team.
These days coaching has become a professional job with handsome earning and fame, but sometimes it can be very frustrating. Misbah is under severe criticism after the team’s dismal show against the minnows Zimbabwe.
A cricket coach is one who is good at team management and team strategy. He should know the weaknesses of his own players and the opponent teams and he should have multiple contingency plans.
A good coach knows how to handle each and every player individually. He should be a good thinker of the game and should be able to communicate effectively what he wants from the boys on the field.
Under Misbah’s coaching reign, Pakistan’s overall record has remained poor as the Green-caps suffered whitewashes against Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand in Tests and T20I series.
Batting on seaming tracks has always been a problem for Pakistani batsmen, but bowling always remained a strong point. But in the pacers-friendly conditions where Kiwi bowlers took Pakistani wickets quite easily, Pakistani bowlers looked toothless.
Is replacing coaches the solution to the long-time batting problem? Obviously not. If attention is not given to domestic structure, Pakistan will continue struggling on fast and bouncy tracks as they did in Australia and New Zealand.