Once fearless and bold, Pakistan has now become the lost child of the cricket world

Published: January 24, 2018
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Mitchell Santner of New Zealand celebrates with Glenn Phillips after taking the wicket of Sarfraz Ahmed in the 1st T20, Jan 22, 2018. PHOTO: GETTY

Batting collapse, batting collapse, batting collapse, batting collapse, batting collapse, and batting collapse – no, this isn’t my failed attempt at rapping, but rather, an apt summary of Pakistan’s performance against New Zealand thus far.

Pakistan have indeed upset many fans as the series progressed, but their unwillingness to learn from their mistakes makes it easy to summarise their performance in one breath. We all saw what happened; therefore, dissecting their batting troubles is like beating a dead horse at this stage – it won’t help.

If Pakistan’s performance in ODIs was a video tape being played at normal speed, then the first T20 was the video played in fast forward. Nothing changed, except that the Pakistani team found even faster ways to throw wickets and end the misery of the fans sooner rather than later.

I am equally hurt by Pakistan’s losses and am not taking this as an opportunity to apply salt to our wounds. However, I am not here to provide a list of the usual excuses either – different conditions, bouncy pitch, weird weather, new country, long flights, and so on. New Zealand has thus far dominated us fair and square. Our batting has been horrendous and our bowling has been average in both formats. It is as simple as that.

Now, we may choose to learn from our mistakes to avoid such losses in the future, or continue to paint the wrong picture to deceive ourselves. The problem lies in the approach we now take towards the game, which at the moment is unclear and ineffective.

Pakistan was once known for its bold moves. We unleashed Shahid Afridi at a time when T20s didn’t even exist; it made little sense but we did it anyways. Wasim Akram was given the new ball at an adolescent age, and we watched him create magic with it. Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar were ordered to go for the kill, while Javed Miandad was trained to be a fighter each time he went out to bat.

We were different back then. We were fearless back then.

Fast-forward to 2018, and now Pakistan has become the lost child of the cricket world. We are timid, we are shy and we are afraid to try something new. We have been slapped with humiliating defeats in Australia and New Zealand within the past 12 months, but instead of learning and growing better, we have grown immune to the pain and offered excuses to get away.

Pakistan, what has happened to you?

We want to play aggressive like we once used to, but then we burden our batting line-ups with inning builders and low strike rates. We desperately look up at Fakhar Zaman to provide our batting some impetus, but we are too afraid to induct more Zamans in the line-up.

Sarfraz Ahmed is our latest star, with the Champions Trophy title under his belt. However, why he is hiding so low in the batting order is anyone’s guess. He has the ability, skill and talent to open for Pakistan and lead from the front, yet he chooses to sit back and watch his team lose in the same fashion, day in and day out.

Even when Ahmed showed a moment of bravery by trying Faheem Ashraf as an opener in the fourth ODI against New Zealand, he was quick to doubt himself and sent Ashraf back down the order after one failure. Imagine if Imran Khan had lost trust in Akram’s ability and had done the same after one poor spell!

The Champions Trophy was a fairy tale, something conjured right out of Disney world. It was spectacular and will always be cherished by the nation. However, it doesn’t hide the flaws that we have been developing over the years, including a defensive mindset and a lack of ability to make bold decisions.

Ahmed cannot change the fate of the team by yelling excessively behind the stumps. He can only change the fate of the team by learning from their earlier mistakes and making the hard, yet necessary decisions. He can even use England as a case study. England completely transformed their team when Eoin Morgan took over, because they realised their old approach was outdated and a new approach was a must if they were to progress as a team.

If I could suggest anything to Ahmed, I would advise him to have a clear vision and make the tough call to drop players that start a dot ball marathon in the middle of the innings. Given that we have already hit rock bottom, with a whitewash in ODIs and a humiliation in the first T20, how can trying a new approach and new players be any worse?

Hamza Junaid

Hamza Junaid

The author is an avid cricket follower and plays for a team called Gladiators based in New York. He tweets as @hamza_junaid1 (twitter.com/hamza_junaid1)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Yousaf Haque

    I agree with the blogger that Pakistan is a lost child, and not just in cricket. Recommend

  • PatelPara

    So 20 days ago when the tour was about to start Pakistan was fearless and bold?

    Seriously, yes, questions need to be answered, as batting struggled and got exposed even in srilanka tour when babar had to save us. But saying that we are the lost child of cricket world just because of last 20 days is pathetic.
    Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    hamza nz at home is tuff only teams like sa eng and aus are better or as good as nz at home i remember 2007 jan nz beat aus 3-0 in odis that side in 2007 aus side was the best scored 300+ in each inngs and lost all three games …
    fahim will be tried up the order but for him to score runs is imp and that will happen may be in t20 and odis on low slow pitches where new ball score runs is easy.. fakhar and ahmad will open safi will be at no 4 harris 3 azam 5 and i think shadab at 6 he should be he is our top batsman… Hamza i got a feeling we are going to win tomm inshaAllah … nz is good and no 1 t20 side however all it takes is one game and t20 can be won by 1 or 2 playersRecommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Last 20 days?
    4-1 ODI series Loss to England 2016
    4-1 ODI series Loss to Australia 2017
    5-0 ODI series Loss to New Zealand 2018
    I think the performance has been “pathetic” for more than 20 days : )Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    It was once the cornered Tiger and a rising power, not just in cricket.Recommend

  • Waqas

    The problem is poor selection and batting order. There is no place for Azhar Ali in ODI team although he showed some decent performance in CT, but still he is not an ODI material, Sahibzada Farhan can be tried with Fakhar Zaman. Sarafraz Ahmed should bat at 4 or 5, and if Hafeez cant bowl he also doesn’t have any place in the team, instead of him Hussain Talat can be inducted. Time to give Amir some rest and we should try Mir Hamza or Muhammad Abbas.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Agreed with your changes. The batting order was poorly selected, we definitely need a few batsmen that can take the attack to the opposition. Current line up is a bit too defensive and slow for my liking.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Hi Israr!
    I agree NZ conditions are tough for any side however Pakistan has been mediocre in ODI series for some time now. 4-1 in Australia 2016, 4-1 in England 2017 and even 3-0 from Australia in UAE 2014. Against Top ODI sides we have been consistently under performing and hence the disappointment.

    You were right! Pakistan won the 2nd T20 comprehensively! Guess what it was the only match I could not watch because of the timing in US :(Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    You missed the game and I was up at 6 to watch Fakhar and Ahmad smash local NZ boys to all parts specially the sixes Fakhar deposited in stands off santnar… the game won today is the result of Project management yap that is how they pulled off the win… so we have the talent but we fail because we do not put skill to correct use or in order or lets say does not follow the correct sequence order and proper application of skills by the team … the project manager this time made sure the roles are assigned correctly there is always a horses for courses and the blood was in the air for the tiger to go for the prey and hunt … tigers got there now if Pakistan wins next game on Sunday then they are No. 1 T20 side in the world and despite 5-0 white wash Pakistan is still the champion of champions in a league called champions trophy of Top 8 sides in the world… big game hunters are out and wanting to win… NZ will make a seaming track and if we can we should try to once again try to retain wickets and utilize 5 overs again they can be anywhere in the innings but pick your bowlers.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    I would have stayed awake too but it was a working day I had to get some sleep lol But I did watch the full highlights and man those 3 sixes from Fakhar were sweeet! I agree with your analysis but I feel we can still improve the batting lineup. We can take out Umar Amin and Haris Sohail from T20 side and put some power hitters in their along with Faheem and Fakhar. We need to stop worrying about a collapse and go smash the NZ bowlers. When our batsmen executed some good attacking shots we finally saw NZ under pressure and make mistakes. Needed some of that in the ODIs as well.Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    i see ur point in getting full power into the side… so still if we have beaten world no 1 side at their home ground with 3/4th power wow that is some achievement :) may be nawaz can replace umar amin, haris will play every single game for at least 1 year from … today … :) we got to give him the run he deserve yes anwar ali should play t20 he gives u wkts every game and more than handy with bat so yes he should make it in t20 and odi team as part of bigger squard aamir and hasan should not be playing every game… lastly i think anwar ali should be taken with the side to England to play in test matches @ lords and headingly … sarfaraz and micky should not be fooled by Lords where they won in 2016 remember its on 24th of may which is not at all summer in England its going to be cold might be wet and 100% seaming pitch v seaming and that is where anwar ali gives u wickets and score handy runs at no 7 … headingly too is going to seam a lot need haris sohail to play out of his skin at no 5/6
    sorry got carried away … so tomm the game is on the winner gets 1st spot .. we win the toss safi bats but if we lost the toss the plan should not be defensive i say do not try to push hard for wickets just pin them down if u get help only then go for wickets …i do not see any change unless its a spinning track we might see nawaz in for aminRecommend

  • Israr Khan

    great win for Pakistan and congrats mashaAllah :) the best part of the series is ROTATION u need to groom all ur players and test them, fahim like hasan ali was tested to bowl last over the diff surely was hasan only had to defend 11 in last over where as fahim defending 31 or something still bowled a no ball and was hit for 6 and a 4 … Hamza mashaAllah by the grace of Allah we are NO 1 IN T20 INTERNATIONALS AND CHAMPIONS OF CHAMPIONS IN ODI CRICKET :) time to improve on TEST MATCH CRICKET WINNING TEST SERIES IN ENGLAND WILL BE REALLY A GOOD START :)Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Many Congratulations to you as well Israr! : ) Delighted to see them win and take the No.1 spot!
    You see this is what I like when they go out there and fight it out. Even if they had lost today I would have backed them because they fought hard. In ODIs they didn’t even put up a fight and started playing a defensive brand of cricket. Regardless, today is a day to celebrate and the young guns are looking promising so I’m happy to see our team rise. Maybe some of my criticism helped them get back on winning track lol ;)
    I see your point about Anwar Ali but I think he has unfortunately lost all the swing that he once had. He was given chances in T20 and ODI sides under Afridi but he couldn’t replicate his Under19 bowling again hence I doubt he will get a comeback.Recommend

  • PatelPara

    right, somehow you missed out Champions Trophy and England Test series 2-2 (in england), 5-0 srilanka, 2-0 srilanka (t20), 2-1 westindies, 3-1 westindies (t20) 2-1 (tests)Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    I mentioned Champions Trophy victory in the blog itself… Now if a series victory against club level West Indies(a team that couldn’t even qualify for the world cup) and weak Srilankan side is something worth feeling proud of then I feel we really have set our standards very low. I certainly believe we are better than that and hence its about time we start beating England Australia NewZealand SA in series as well. Enough with the excuses.Recommend