The cricket debacle in Lahore has sent shockwaves as Pakistan received a thrashing against low-ranked Sri Lanka in the T20 series. To add further insult to injury the island nation had sent a second-tier team after major players backed out over security concerns.
The first game at Gaddafi stadium came as a surprise when Pakistan received a 64-run defeat and were humbled in the second match after a 35-run defeat. The hosts did not even gain a consolation win and lost the third game as well. The team was second-best against their opponents in every department raising concerns that a lot of work was required to be done.
The debacle was also a setback for former captain Misbah-ul-Haq. He was recently appointed as the head coach and chief selector giving him an all-powerful role in cricket affairs. This radical decision was rather unprecedented in Pakistan’s cricket history and attracted immense criticism. Many were confident that Misbah was the right man for the job given his record as the most successful captain. The dual role meant that Misbah had to face the brunt of the criticism in case of failure and the series in Lahore proved to be an eye-opener.
However, Misbah defended his decision for recalling the non-reliable duo Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad. Both were discarded by former coach Mickey Arthur due to their attitude and discipline. Akmal was out for a golden duck in both matches and Shehzad scored just 17 runs in two innings. It is unlikely that both players have a future in the national team.
Misbah has even maintained that there is too much reliance on one player and the entire team is affected if he does not perform well. He believes that a team should have six to seven match winners. There is also considerable work to be done on batsmen and Misbah isn’t even impressed by the bowlers.
There is also criticism for skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed who had failed to deliver any match-winning knocks and struggled to lead his team effectively. However, his captaincy seems secure as Pakistan heads for a tour of Australia next month where they will be truly tested.
Pakistan cricket team has considerable time as it prepares for the World T20 next year and must make serious efforts to pull up its socks before the mega event. Misbah needs to rethink what went wrong and build a strategy to perform better or face the wrath of cricket enthusiasts.