The Champions Trophy 2013: Why we failed… again!

Published: June 17, 2013
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This country has unfathomable potential, and the management had better start honing it before it too starts deteriorating. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Champions Trophy 2013 was a debacle in every sense of the word. We played three, and lost three; outclassed and outplayed.

Sometimes unprecedented failure can do wonders.

Had Pakistan somehow bowled West Indies out before 170, as they were so close to doing so and had the batsmen somehow chased down 235 even after losing nine wickets against South Africa, we would have been in the semi-finals. Regardless of what would have happened after it, we would have given the boys a pat on their backs for showing tremendous fight and will power.

Thank God that did not happen.

The true state of our batting now lies in front of us as clear as the midsummer sky. Our destroyer has been our batting, the failure of which during the Champions Trophy can be branched into three core issues:

The availability of good quality batsmen

Consider this- how many batsmen from our current batting line up would make it to the Indian starting 11?

Take our two most, or should I say relatively, successful batsmen. Would they even make the cut? Would you choose Nasir Jamshed over Rohit Sharma or Ravindra Jadeja? Would you choose Misbahul-Haq over Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina or MS Dhoni?

I highly doubt it.

This says a lot about the batting talent that we have to offer.

A lot has been said about Kamran Akmal not deserving a place in the batting line up. The bitter truth is, we do not have a better wicket keeper-batsman than him. Our supply of talent is choked.

One would never have associated such a problem with Pakistan, until international teams stopped touring our land. Slowly but surely, the galli cricket’ tradition is disappearing. It is naive to deny it. We are just not selecting good enough players anymore. Our domestic cricket is in shambles and our college and school cricket is withering.

The Pakistan Cricket Board needs to wake up.

The selection

I do not know what the selectors were thinking while penning the team for the Champions Trophy.

Imran Farhat had a decent series against South Africa, but he failed miserably in the two games against Ireland. What was the need of another opener, who had been tried and tested four times, when we already had Nasir Jamshed, Muhammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal?

If the selectors wanted to play Kamran Akmal down the order and needed another opener, Ahmed Shehzad or Shahzaib Hasan were all reasonably viable options.

Shoaib Malik’s last batting milestone was a century against India in September 2009. Four years down the line, he has not had a single half century to his name in the One Day International (ODI) format. We also seldom use him as a bowler. One wonders why he still made the cut.

There was not a single dynamic pinch hitter in the team. No Hammad Azam, no Shahid Afridi, no Umar Akmal and no Abdul Razzaq. If Afridi, Razzaq and Umar Akmal needed to be dropped, they needed to be replaced by a proper pinch hitters as well.

The management absurdly backed the young Umar Amin to bat at number seven, where he isn’t accustomed to, even in first class cricket. Umar Amin is a proper top order batsman. He is a steady timer of the ball, not a big hitter.

The captaincy

I am sorry but Misbahul-Haq’s personal performances aside, he has failed to inspire the team.

The difference between our approach, and the approach of say the Indian team, was apparent. Our batsmen play to save their wickets. Their batsmen play to score runs. Ours are batting with the mindset of trying to stay at the crease long enough for the runs to magically drop on their laps. Something that I believe has become the bane of Pakistani batting.

Misbah needs to be more proactive. He needs to be more attacking. He needs to instil confidence in the team. However, note that I mean the players need to be attacking, not reckless. There’s a fine line between the two, and playing at the top most competitive level, you expect the players to realise what that line is.

170 runs, 167 runs and 165 runs; our batsmen failed to score more than 170 on dry wickets. This is a country that has produced legendary batsmen like Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Inzamamul Haq and Saeed Anwar. Hence, one cannot write off Pakistan as a country that only produces fast bowlers and the occasional exceptional spinner.

This country has unfathomable potential, and the management had better start honing it before it too starts deteriorating.

zain.abid

Zain Abid

An alumnus of The City School. Currently studying at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

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