“I felt immensely sad after watching those crestfallen Pakistani fans who gathered in the stadium with high hopes but their hopes and aspirations were murdered brutally by the Pakistani team,” Writes Faisal Caesar 

 

Wow!

What a match it was at the Oval!

After a long time, we were left biting our nails in a low-scoring thriller.

The pathetic Pakistani batting was well backed by their exquisite bowling attack and almost bagged the match against the West Indies.

But the West Indies prevailed in a nerve-wracking finish and maintained their unbeaten record against Pakistan at the Oval.

Then the Sri Lankans dished out another eye-popping low-scoring affair in Cardiff where it seemed that the lady luck did a great injustice by not gifting the match to Sri Lanka. The way the Lankans made chasing 138 an impossible task simply deserved a standing ovation. Sadly, the Kiwis had the last laugh but the winners of the hearts were the Lankans.

The Oval and Cardiff thrillers conveyed a message that the contest always gets spicy when the ball is dominating the game. Cricket is always dull and one dimensional when the battle is between willow vs willow.

More than Pakistan’s excellent bowling display at the Oval, more than Wahab Riaz’s lively spell at the Oval and more than Misbah’s one-man-show at the Oval; the passionate and vociferous Pakistani fans at the Oval caught my attention. As if we were watching a match at either Karachi or Lahore. Their eyes were full of dreams and each time they shouted for their team it expressed their enormous confidence with their men who dominate their heart and brain more than the Drone attack and Nawaz Sharif’s policies in changing Pakistan.

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Though the match at the Oval was lost, the fans were extremely hopeful that their men will gift them sweet memories to relish because on the big occasions, the men in green always are habituated to hit the jackpot at the right moment, and in England, they are always a different kettle of fish. But sadly, the dreams of millions of Pakistanis were shattered and they are left bemused.

In the second encounter against the South Africans at Edgbaston, the atmosphere was absolutely electrifying. It was just another Lahore and Karachi. The fans were noisy, shouting, ‘Pakistan jite ga,’ ‘Pakistan Zindabad,’ ‘Dil, Dil Pakistan’, or ‘Pakistan Zindabad!’ To get spirited and go for the ultimate kill what does a team need more! Even away from home, you are feeling almost in home courtesy of these passionate cricket fans. To upset these fans was saddening.

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As usual, the Pakistani bowlers came back strongly to dent the South African batting line up with inspirational bowling spells backed by a brilliant fielding display from the ace Misbah-ul-Haq. The Pakistanis were needed to chase down just 235 in 50 overs but what the world witnessed was the dullest exhibition of batsmanship in recent times.

Against an attack that lacked the firepower of Dale Steyn and Morkel, it was never an unachievable total by any means. Even, in my opinion, it had not been that much of a brilliant bowling display by the South African bowlers, but the Pakistani batsmen batted as if they were trying their best to make that second string South African attack as invincible. Not from any of the batsmen the ultimate dash was scripted. Rather, they capitulated meekly. Again, Misbah fought alone, again the rest of the batsmen choked big time.

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The passionate fans present at Edgbaston were shell-shocked. They were not ready to accept such a pathetic display from their beloved men. They were left bemused in knowing that their team was out of the tournament. There were gloomy faces in the stadium; there were dispirited feelings amongst the Pakistani fans.

I felt immensely sad after watching those crestfallen Pakistani fans who gathered in the stadium with high hopes but their hopes and aspirations were murdered brutally by the Pakistani team.

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If one factor has to be blamed for this dismal show by Pakistan then it should be the mind-boggling selection. The selection of a well established failed package named Imran Farhat still makes no sense. Time and again this Bradman from planet Neptune is being picked only to script an added pressure in the batting line up as he is always the surest thing to get out as early as possible. Farhat’s failures will be written in letters of gold in the history of Pakistan cricket.

The omission of Asad Shafiq and picking Umar Amin instead of him had been another idiotic approach. There is no doubt about Asad Shafiq’s talent and his abilities have been proven time and again. Asad can switchgear according to the need of the situation – an ability which Umar Amin lacks.

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Why Shoaib Malik was picked in the squad still remains a moot question. Malik had been the name of a big flop for the last couple of years. Neither with the bat nor with the ball has Malik shone. His overall appearance on the field gives everyone the feeling of a person who is always being suppressed by this world for an unknown reason. You need confident players in the team and not depressed characters.

Players like Shahid Afridi and Younis Khan are ignored on the basis of poor performances but what Bradmanesque performance did Malik and Frahat exhibit?

With the asking run-rate being escalated what Pakistan needed most was the service of a pinch hitter but who will give them the late surge?

There was no Afridi.

There was no Razzaq.

In the middle-order, other than Misbah’s stability there were no other batsmen to ensure security.

The experience of Younis Khan was immensely missed.

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You can do millions of discussions with the past greats, you can arrange millions of conditioning camps in Abottabad but if you pick the wrong players in your team then these initiatives will never fetch great results.

The Pakistani selection committee must have a vision while the top officials must bear in mind that only boasting of having lots of talented bowlers will not bring the desired results. A cricket team needs both batsmen and bowlers. Without the adequate support of the batsmen, the bowlers’ good work will always meet a sad end. Pakistan will never fall short of fast bowlers but they will lack quality batsmen if correct approaches aren’t taken.

I don’t believe that Pakistan doesn’t have talents in batting. A land that is fertile for giving birth to exciting and talented cricketers can’t be a desert in terms of producing sizzling batsmen. What Pakistan lack is the eye and management skill in finding these talents! Rather than a pace hunting program, I guess a batsman hunting program will benefit Pakistan more. Many Pakistani officials and fans think too much about their bowling attack but shouldn’t be batting be taken with greater importance? The current side is badly in need of a batting coach.

Lastly, to build a Pakistan team, appoint a Pakistani coach.

History suggests that Pakistan’s greatest moments have always come under Pakistani coaches and not the foreign ones.

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