Is Hafeez in a position to lead our T20 side in the World Cup 2014?
Mohammad Hafeez’s journey as captain began in July, 2012, when he was appointed in-charge of the Pakistan T20 team. A few months later, the team participated in the T20 World Cup, which was held in September, 2012, in Sri Lanka.
Though Pakistan made its way into the semi-finals by securing victories in the initial rounds, they had to face defeat in the semis against the host team, by 16 runs. Pakistan had to return back home, empty handed, despite reaching so close to the trophy.
During Hafeez’s captaincy, Pakistan T20 cricket has seen many glory days.
He has the record of winning the most number of T20 matches as a Pakistani captain. He led Pakistan to whitewash the West Indies in the T20 matches of 2013 and also helped improve winning percentages for the team.
However, keeping these achievements aside, Hafeez has been struggling for the past couple of months – he has been unable to deliver his best, his body language seems pretty down and it’s like he has lost his mojo.
The recent, tragically short, series against South Africa in UAE was nothing less than a nightmare for him. He could not give an impressive performance and he seemed helpless against Dale Steyn’s attacks. After being prey to Steyn’s bowling time and again, terms like ‘Steyn’s-bunny’ surfaced for Hafeez and even Steyn himself lost the interest to celebrate after getting his wickets.
Surely, the end of the series was a great relief for Hafeez.
Analyzing statistically, in the last 11 T20 matches he has scored 237 runs at an average of 21.5, along with two ducks at a strike rate of 97. In the bowling department, he managed to get a total of nine wickets (only two in the last seven games) at an economy rate of six.
If we look at his performance in One Day Internationals (ODIs), in the last 15 games he has scored 458 runs (almost 30 runs on average) and managed to get just seven wickets. It’s not a significant performance and it seems that he has been struggling with his game lately.
In the recent T20 matches against Sri Lanka and the only T20 match against Afghanistan, Hafeez had a chance to improve his form and get some momentum back into his style, as these were completely Steyn-less matches. Yet, he remained incapable to impress his audience.
In the second game against Sri Lanka, while chasing down a gigantic total of 212, he got out scoring only seven runs and gave 45 runs for no wicket while bowling. Before that, Pakistan had a nail biting last ball win even against a team like Afghanistan.
As Pakistan has already played its last T20 match before World Cup 2014, it now will face India on March 21st, 2014, in its first match of the world cup.
The questions which bother me:
1. With the kind of performances Hafeez has been giving lately, will he be able to lead the team?
2. Will he be able to give confidence to his team while the batting line is counting on him to play well?
3. How difficult it would be for him, to put the winning spirit in our boys, while having lost his pride himself?
This time, the nation wants the team to go beyond the semi-finals and anything less than that would not be appreciated at all. It seems that Hafeez, as a captain, has somehow failed to cast a charismatic spell on the team members and his T20 career.
It would be wise for the Pakistan Cricket Board to take out some time and reflect on the whole situation regarding Pakistan’s T20 captaincy. A captain’s attitude matters a lot, as that decides whether he will take brave decisions and play a good offense or if will he shy away a defensive approach and brood over all the clinches he has gone through in his previous games.
If we talk about alternate choices for captaincy, we have Shahid Afridi as a valid option. He is in good shape and has the ability to lead the team in difficult situations. We saw a gladiator in Afridi the last time he was captain.
I feel that there will be many last minute changes in the team before we take off for the T20 World Cup 2014. And these changes will probably be for the best.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.