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Scared Pakistan have no chance at World Cup

May 21, 2019
 

It was after a miserable 2015 World Cup campaign when England decided to tear up the old blueprint and follow a new one—the one that New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum had used to give his unfancied side ‘one hell of a ride’ all the way to the final.

And so they went about creating a team that knows no fear, that most paralysing of emotions. In the process, they went from being the timid boys who wet their pants to the biggest bullies of the playground. They were knocked out by Bangladesh in the last edition, they go into this one as the favourites—the number one side in the world.

Big bats, small boundaries, dead pitches, two balls, home conditions, and no fear. Imagine the possibilities.

Before the Trent Bridge game, fast-bowler Mark Wood said 500 is no longer an unrealistic target for England. If any team can do it, then it is this one. They have reached 481 before, what’s 19 more runs among friends?

Pakistan, on the other hand, are a side shackled by fear, their every step weighed down by it. Inzamam-ul-Haq’s selection is to blame; if the team’s most economical bowler in Mohammad Amir and most lethal bowler in Usman Shinwari aren’t safe, then who is? Mickey Arthur’s man-management is to blame, alienating players who dare question his supreme authority. Sarfaraz Ahmed’s tendency to not go for the jugular is to blame, the players happy to let the game pass them by. All of this has led to a team driven not by the hunger to win but by the fear of defeat. A team designed not to feast among kings but merely to stave off starvation.

Asif Ali and Fakhar Zaman are the only batsmen in the side who can clear the boundary with ease, with Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mohammad Hafeez all more comfortable nudging the ball around for singles—two batsmen to power the ship and six to anchor it. Inzamam has assembled a team so woefully out of touch with modern cricket that they might as well be sharpening their wooden sticks to take on enemy tanks.

In a sport where standing still means going backwards, Pakistan are frozen in place by fear. Nothing signifies this more than the recall of 33-year-old Wahab Riaz, who last played an ODI two years ago when he gave away 87 runs without taking a wicket in 8.4 overs against India. He comes in as a wicket-taking option, despite having taken three wickets just once against a top-eight opposition since the last World Cup. In England, he averages 96.25 with the ball at a strike-rate of 86.5 and an economy of 6.67.

This is not a decision made by sensible minds thinking calmly, this is a decision made by men scampering to cover their mistakes and save their own hides when the fallout surely arrives.

The team’s pace battery is filled with bowlers either burdened by haunting memories of the past or hindered by a lack of experience—men who have either seen too many horrors or too few.

This is a team that has won just two out of their 15 ODIs in 2019 and the management has responded to that by promptly dropping the team’s best bowler in that period.

Perhaps failure in this World Cup will be a blessing in disguise—the darkest hour before the sun rises. A disastrous World Cup may finally force Pakistan to let go of their shackles and emerge from the ashes, stronger, wiser and without fear. Perhaps the only way to let go of the fear of humiliating failure is to suffer from it first. At least that is one thing Pakistan are well-prepared for.

 
 
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7 Comments

  1. Avatar
    naveed   May 21, 2019 11:00 am/ Reply

    We hope that after every world cup but sun doesn’t rise on people who wake up at 2pm

  2. Avatar
    Faraz   May 21, 2019 2:54 pm/ Reply

    wow, how did such a lacklustre and wishy-washy article get published in the first place is a mesmerizing awakening to print journalism and more importantly Pakistan Cricket. True, that Inzamam is public enemy #1 for how he selected this team with his blind backing for Imam his nephew who is a burden in Pakistan Cricket often and only few of his innings have been redeeming ones and Inzamam’s glaring and continued vendetta against Fawad Alam and now with Anwar Ali, should alone be justification for his nepotism-laden selection games to end..but that aside, sending Wahab Riaz (capable of nasty short-pitched bowling) over a failing Junaid and even mediocre Faheem Ashraf (who clearly failed with bat and ball) is quite alright in my books. As for Amir, he was always going to be in the squad, he is a big-occasion bowler regardless his purple patch so this isn’t surprising yet a deserved call-up (for Amir and Riaz). The other aspect I want to highlight in this inexpert commentary piece by Taha…is the fact that he makes no suggestions on what or how to improve aside his cries of playing without fear – it isn’t a method you instill into a team in a day or even 3-4 years… its a psyche that develops over a generational time – one that defines a nation’s players over a long period of time and I think Pakistan has that in boatloads – so to title “Scared Pakistan” and that they have “no chance” not only are useless rambles but also the writer does not believe it to be the case himself! – so pretty much a cheap attempt to sell his article (in my view). Now my commenting on it however is out of pure disgust at the content shared and I despise such Pakistani mindsets – I hope we eradicate these flawed approaches in due course; and if it is assumed on part of the writer that he made me read it or comment on it as being a success indicator then in essence, it would be complacency of magnanimous proportions – so Taha: son, don’t quit your day job, I hope it is not writing about Pakistan Cricket or Pakistan. Now, turning to those who’ve made it this far, and to the larger discussion point – Pakistan’s chances at the World Cup 2019, I feel we have a good enough squad, is it the best squad available in Pakistan absolutely no! Fawad Alam and Anwar Ali should be vital cogs of Pakistan’s ODI lineup and Sarfaraz knows it all too well – he is just out there to protect his own interests. Is he a good leader? sure, but he is no great leader like Miandad or Imran or Younis Khan – in order for him to achieve greatness he needs to stand up to evil forces in PCB like Inzamam and Co.; next, is this Pakistan team capable of winning the 2019 World Cup – only time will tell but they have good players, are they quality professionals is another subject altogether…lots of amateurs in Shaheen, Hasnain or even Shadab but it could be their differentiator should these young guns fire. If they don’t, Pakistan does not have enough batting armoury up front, to save a bad bowling performance. My only hope is Amir’s is fit in time and Hassan Ali is able to rediscover his lost mojo and then we have a really good chance. As much a critic I am of Hafeez, he is a different player now, Shoaib Malik at the twilight of his career can produce something for us to savor for ages to come. So I feel an ounce of optimism of course with a grain of salt.

  3. Avatar
    Muhammad   May 21, 2019 6:24 pm/ Reply

    Pcb doesnt learn from its mistakes…the author is spot on about everything almost…but i must remind you again…the defeat in the worldcup is inevitable…after every world cup they come out to make a new team for the next world cup..and by the time next world cup comes this is the best they have come up with…

  4. Avatar
    Jacob   May 21, 2019 6:36 pm/ Reply

    Certain people do not know anything about cricket and are always criticize others.
    Mark my words, Pakistan with the current team will reach the final if not win it.

  5. Avatar
    F Saeed   May 21, 2019 8:07 pm/ Reply

    Obviously someone who isn’t familiar with the game has written this article or may be the writer is expecting the men in green to rise above as a result of this criticism which rather seems to be harsh. The writer is definitely ignoring the fact that Pakistan are an unpredictable side and on their day they can beat the best of the teams with ease !

  6. Avatar
    1.618   May 23, 2019 1:21 pm/ Reply

    Way to be patriotic… an article like this is published a few days before the main event. Come on! Uplifting content please! Enough of the whining! Its not like we were knocked out of the ICC 2017 in the first round! Its not like we don’t have some of the world’s best teenage talent! And its not like we’re not the number 1 team in T20 (any format is good enough!).
    Justify writing this article however you want…next time try motivation rather than criticism.

  7. Avatar
    abid ullah   June 18, 2019 8:50 pm/ Reply

    can pakistan goying in semifinal in this cup

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