When Sri Lanka announced its squad for Pakistan tour in September, who would have thought that this star-less squad would whitewash Pakistan – the number one T20I side in the world – in the T20I series? And the defeat would be so humiliating that people would start questioning the appointment of Iron Man of Pakistan cricket, Misbahul Haq, as head coach and the national chief selector.
It was Misbah’s first test after the Pakistan Cricket Board handed him the dual role in September for a three-year term. Pakistan managed to claim the three-match ODI series in Karachi 2-0 with the first ODI getting washed out due to rain without a ball being bowled, but it was the island-nation that stole the limelight in Lahore as they awed the cricketing world by running riot on the world number one side in the shortest T20I format that too in its own backyard.
This marks history as Sri Lanka had never completed a whitewash in the 20-over format before. But what makes this whitewash, even more, haunting for Pakistan is the fact that it got thrashed by a team that was practically the Sri Lankan ‘B side’ with ten key players, including Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, and Thisara Perera pulling out of the tour at the very last moment.
Misbah’s move of calling back tried and tested Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal for the T20s backfired as both batsmen dismayed the fans with their poor performances.
Pakistan are known for their poor performances in long formats of the game but have been well-known for coming out with all guns blazing in shorter formats. However, it seems like the side is losing its strong grasp in T20Is too due to recent hammerings by the hands of South Africa, England, and Sri Lanka, making it Pakistan’s sixth defeat from seven games.
The hosts were given a run for their money in the ODI series in Karachi but were totally dominated by the visiting side in the T20I series which has the management’s top-tier scratching its heads. It has surely raised some eyebrows on the recent PCB appointments.
The cricket experts who were already denouncing the appointment of Misbah are reiterating their claims that someone who had the tag ‘TukTuk’ attached to him during his cricketing days can’t coach any team in times when the dimensions of the sport have gotten so aggressive.
But what we must not forget is that even Sir Alex Ferguson took four seasons to win the first trophy for Manchester United and revive the British side’s glory days. Misbah may not be Sir Alex but from my personal standpoint, the man deserves a few more tests before conducting critical scrutiny.
All eyes are on the cricket board whether it will stay persistent with Misbah or re-frame its strategy before the national side’s upcoming tour of Australia, where it will have to lock horns with a star-studded Australian team which has gotten fiercer with the return of Steve Smith and David Warner.