Sunday, May 12, 2019

Lots of questions still to be answered for Pakistan

The one thing that stood out for me in Pakistan's chase of 374 yesterday was that Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed's belief that his team was capable of scoring 350 in an ODI was in fact true!

No one expected Pakistan to chase down 374, but no one expected Pakistan to get to within 12 runs of that target either.

It was a spirited chase, which left the Pakistani fans stunned, and I am sure built a lot of confidence and self belief within the team.

How consistently can Pakistan churn out such totals in ODIs is uncertain but with a top 4 averaging above 48, chances are that at least one of them will get a 100 in an ODI leading Pakistan to a 300+ target.

However, Fakhar will be the difference between a total of 310 and 350. He is the only one who can push Pakistan towards such a score.

Yesterday's game may have answered a lot of questions for some people, but it sure brought up a number of questions for Pakistan's selectors.

1. How do Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik fit in this XI?

2. Who will make way for Asif Ali in Pakistan's World Cup Squad?

3. How long will Faheem Ashraf be persisted with?

4. Who is the back-up spinner if Shadab Khan does not get fit in time?

5. Who is Pakistan's finisher?

These are just some of the tough questions that need answering.

Hafeez & Malik
This is going to be really tough. There is no way that both of them will play in the same XI for Pakistan. Not unless Pakistan plans to drop both Haris Sohail and Asif Ali.

After what Asif Ali did yesterday, Pakistan need him. How they fit him in the squad and the XI is the next question, but for now I feel that both Hafeez and Malik need to be told what the management is thinking.

Communication is key!

Dropping Haris for one of them is also unfair in my view, considering he averages 48 in ODIs! But with Imam and Babar also in the team, Pakistan can't afford another batsman with a strike rate in the 80s.

Hafeez will be a better option in my opinion.

Asif Ali
Unfortunately, it may be Abid Ali who will have to make way for Asif in Pakistan's 15-man World Cup squad. There is no question that Asif is required, but there are a whole lot of questions regarding Pakistan's XI, team balance, et al when it comes to fitting Asif in the playing XI.

In a situation like yesterday, he is ideal. On a day when Pakistan's top 4 have piled on the runs and have batted for two thirds of the innings, it is perfect to send in someone like Asif Ali.

But what happens on days when Pakistan is 50-4? That is my only concern and I feel Asif Ali is best suited to number 7. Or at 6 if Sarfraz is to follow him at 7.

Both Sarfraz and Asif in the top 6 is too thin a batting line up in my view.

I guess Pakistan will need to rely more on Hafeez and Haris to fulfill the 5th bowler role.

Faheem Ashraf
He needs to be dumped right away. An ODI bowling average of 35 and batting average of 12 does not make an allrounder. He can't take wickets, he can't score runs, he can't finish games.

Basically he is useless.

Drop him. Bring Mohammad Aamir back!

Shadab Khan
There is a lot of uncertainty around his availability for the World Cup and I think a decision needs to be taken as to who will come into the squad if he remains unavailable.

Yasir Shah obviously is not the answer.

But then if we are looking to fit in Asif Ali into Pakistan's XI and have Hafeez and Haris share the 5th bowler duties, Pakistan will not require another spinner in place of Shadab.

Now questions arise if Shadab actually becomes fit for the World Cup.

Pakistan's Finisher
Let us face it, if India were chasing this total last night then a Dhoni or a Pandya or a Jadeja would have finished the game off for them. It is pretty much what they do day in day out.

For Pakistan - Sarfraz, Imad, and Faheem all failed to fulfill this role.

I feel, Imad is the one who will get Pakistan over the line more often than not, but Faheem is a total disaster.

This is probably also why Pakistan need someone like Hafeez to play around number 6.

I know I had very different thoughts around the time Pakistan's World Cup squad was being announced, but then I wouldn't be a true Pakistan fan if I wasn't a little bit fickle!

This is how I see the WC squad shaping up in the next 10 days:

Faheem will make way for Mohammad Aamir. If Shadab remains unfit, then Asif Ali will be included in his place. If Shadab is available then Asif will replace Abid Ali.

Keep watching this space, as thoughts may change again by Wednesday!

Make your pitch on this post...

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3 Pitched:

  1. K & D Plumbing Welcomes You! said...

    The Pakistani teamselected for World Cup 2019 is balanced though, I think we are short of a big hitter in the latter position. Asif Ali could be picked up but his consistency is a big question mark, at the moment he is selected for England tour before World Cup, he is chances would be bright if he performed in this ongoing series.

  2. Anonymous said...

    I think if shabad not get fit then Pak has to call Umar khan
    N Abid has to make place for Asif n sarfarZ has to open Inn..with fakhar that makes way for hafeez at 4 Malik at 5 n Asif at 6 n especially
    Bring amir in place of faheem the useless

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