Pak v SL

Published on October 17th, 2017 | by Sakshi Gupta

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It’s high time Ahmed Shehzad gets his priorities straight

If you talk about undeserving players in a national cricket team at present, Pakistan’s opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad would top the list. He was a part of Pakistan’s ICC Champions Trophy squad that went on to lift the coveted trophy but he barely made any contribution. After a low score against India in their opening match, Shehzad was dropped by Pakistan and following that he never managed to return to the playing XI in the tournament. It was more than certain that Shehzad would have to prove himself in the domestic circuit to make a comeback.

Not sure if a tournament like PSL is the right judge but Shehzad also performed well in Pakistan’s National One-Day Cup and top-scored for his department this season with 653 runs in 9 innings. Even that would not have been enough for him to crawl his way back but Azhar Ali, who has been decently performing post captaincy, suffered a knee injury and Pakistan did not want to risk him by playing him in the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka. While it turned out to be a blow for the semi-hosts, it was a great chance for Shehzad to prove his worth on the top of the order.

Time to drop Shehzad, again?

Pakistan had already been hammered in the Test series as Sri Lanka became the first-ever side to whitewash Pakistan in the latter’s adopted home venue, UAE. They were desperate to come back on the track and so was Shehzad to score some runs. He was already axed from the Test side and before he faced the same situation in the one-day format too, he had to get going with the bat. However, the 12-ball duck earned Shehzad nothing but sheer criticism.

He was trolled on the social media about not understanding the meaning of strike rotation. He was clearly under pressure when he was unable to go off the mark and in that case, he should have given strike as much as he could to his batting partner. But, Shehzad, after he faced 11 dot balls, made a hopeless move. He went down the track and swept the ball on the on-side off Lahiru Gamage’s bowl and was lobbed an easy catch to Dananjaya in square leg. That display of cricket from someone who had 79 ODIs under his belt was certainly unacceptable.

Shehzad’s condition worsened when he played a poor shot off poor bowling in the second ODI to get dismissed. Suranga Lakmal went full and outside off; a delivery like that would have faced a severe punishment but the pacer got lucky that there was an out-of-form Shehzad in front of him, who gifted him a wicket for a bad ball. A delivery that could have been easily driven, if Shehzad had proper control, was loosely hit which flew into the hands of the backward point.

Shehzad’s off the field fiasco

Now, the last five innings of Shehzad look like these – 8, 0, 12, 3 and 5. If these numbers are not enough to give Shehzad the limelight he enjoys, he ensures he attracts it by doing something stupid off the field. Shehzad, when made his debut, in 2009 came in as a future prospect for Pakistan cricket at least in the shorter formats. After 81 matches, he does not even average 35 and Pakistani cricket fans are evidently unhappy; these days the fans just do not hesitate to criticise Shehzad, at times, the trolls and comments are absolutely merciless.

Shehzad invited problems when he showed the audacity to compare himself with a cricketer, whose numbers in ODIs have already made him the legend. The Pakistani opener compared himself to Indian Captain Virat Kohli; not only does he copy Kohli’s style, he went on to say that, “unlike me, Kohli gets a lot of support.”

Pakistan won the Champions Trophy in June 2017 and Shehzad chipped in only 12 runs in the entire tournament as he was axed from the side following his low score in the first match. However, the way Shehzad celebrated at the Oval gave an impression that he had played the major role in Pakistan’s victory. He also stood at the centre when the winning Pakistan squad clicked a picture at the PM house; to be precise, he posed as though he was taking a selfie.
More than he shines on the field, he shines in the N-number of selfies he posts on the social media. Not that being active on the social media is wrong but the fact that Shehzad has fared awfully and has not been any help in the national side has triggered the anger in the Pakistan cricket followers that lead to Shehzad trolls.

The cricketer who makes headlines more for wrong reasons than a good batting performance once again was in the news recently before the Sri Lanka series. The ‘selfie king’ during the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final in Karachi, was pursued by a fan for a selfie. In return, the cricketer lost his cool, manhandled him and broke his phone.

Shehzad has become a cricketer who is seen in the news more for non-cricket reasons and that is only shameful for him and the national team. When he was dropped in the Champions Trophy, he would have hoped his replacement, Fakhar Zaman, turns out to be a one-match wonder but that did not happen. The 27-year-old Zaman knew thr art of making full use of golden opportunities and after two fifties, a century and a score in 40s among his six ODI innings, he has etched his place as one of the openers in Pakistan’s ODI squad, at least for a few series more.

Pakistan must look for a ‘more deserving’ replacement for Azhar Ali in order to avoid giving more chances to Shehzad, until, the latter understands the value of playing in the national cricket team.

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About the Author

mm

More than a sport, sports persons have kept her engaged in work. She is a sports fanatic whose mantra in life is “do only what you enjoy". She tweets @sakshi2929.



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