By: Omair Alavi
If anyone can beat Pakistan Cricket team on a given day; it’s their over confidence and nothing else. What else can you say when you select players who don’t deserve a place in the side, and then spend your time defending their selection. There is one certain Ahmed Shahzad and one certain Wahab Riaz who failed to justify their places in limited overs; hence, they were preferred over others in Tests. In the second Test at Bridgetown, Wahab was replaced by a newcomer Shadab Khan who hasn’t played much First Class Cricket in the first place, but impressed in T20 and ODI formats. Shouldn’t Hasan Ali or the out of favour Sohail Khan been a better choice in place of Wahab? Was playing 2 leg spinners in the same XI a gamble that could have been avoided?
The slow batting by Ahmed Shehzad and Azhar Ali in the first innings must be cited as one of the main reasons why the team panicked on the final day. Had they played like modern cricketers, the match might not have entered the fifth day; thanks to their stupid tactic of saving their place in the side, Pakistan lost the match on the final day. In fact, they surrendered it the moment Younis Khan handed Shadab Khan the Test Cap – not everyone is ready for Tests and who could have known that better than Younis Khan who left T20 and ODIs to concentrate on his career in whites. However, the selectors led by Inzamam ul Haq seemed to know more about Cricket and it was their genius decision to play 2 leggies on a pitch that has a history of helping quickies on the final day.
Why is Pakistan Cricket team persisting with useless cricketers like Wahab Riaz and Ahmed Shahzad? The number of times the latter has been tried is far more than the chances given to Sami Aslam, someone who has the potential but doesn’t have the backing of someone powerful. Ahmed Shahzad must be dropped for good from all formats as Pakistan needs someone who plays for the team, not for his place in the team. Mohammad Hafeez would have been a better choice than him since he can bowl off-spin but then, he doesn’t have age on his side – plus he drops more catches in slips than he holds on to.
Yes, Pakistan was supposed to win the match but underestimating the opponents has never helped any team. The hosts came out with an unchanged side and everyone in Pakistan was calling it a blunder. In fact it was one decision that gave the players the confidence they required and West Indies managed to prove their selectors wrong. On the other hand, Pakistani openers batted so slow that even Sir Garry Sobers in attendance must have been reminded of Hanif Mohammad’s 337! Yes Misbah ul Haq and Yasir Shah managed to give hope to the hosts but it’s a team game and when a couple of players are not upto the mark, the balance tilts in favour of the opposition. That’s exactly what happened in the fourth innings when Shannon Gabriel bowled fast and straight, something a third seamer could have done for Pakistan had he been selected in place of another Test debut Shadab Khan.
The match must have demoralized the youngster playing his first Test after successful T20 and ODI debut. It would have been better had he been used in place of Yasir (if he gets injured) rather than used in tandem with him. One hopes to see him regain his confidence because Pakistan needs as many youngsters as they can gather to make it to the final XI especially after the retirement of Younis Khan and Misbah ul Haq. Pakistan played badly on the final day and that’s something both seniors and juniors must get out of their heads before the final Test. If Pakistan wants to create history and win their first Test series in West Indies, they will have to make big decisions and play the best XI instead of fielding 11 players who aren’t sure of their future in the side.