Monday, July 8, 2019

A Review of Pakistan's Cricketers' World Cup Performance & Thoughts on Their Future ...

The positive side of this ICC World Cup 2019 campaign for Pakistan is that they do not need to rebuild.

Unlike the World Cups of 2003, 2007, and 2015 that witnessed an exodus of senior players, this time Pakistan has a solid core of talented and match winning youngsters who will play many more World Cups in the future.

They have a solid core to build upon and the future looks bright.

Here's a look at each one of Pakistan's squad members, how they fared in the World Cup, and what the future holds for them.

BABAR AZAM
474 runs at an average of 67.7; 1 hundred, 3 fifties

Easily Pakistan's best batsman currently, he broke the record for most runs by a Pakistan batsman in a World Cup going ahead of Javed Miandad's 437 runs in 1992.

A match winning 100 against New Zealand, a 96 against Bangladesh, and decent knocks in every outing (barring West Indies) shows his strength and consistency as Paksitan's #3.

Also remember, he is only 24, has not even played 100 ODIs, and has been around for only 3 years. The batsmen you compare him to have been around for a decade or more. Let him grow into one of the greats, rather than demean him at this stage of his career.

Babar will lead Pakistan to many a win in the future. Maybe a World Cup win too. 

For all his critics who whine about how Babar does not finish games for Pakistan, go watch Pakistan vs New Zealand again. And you have to watch it as Osman Samiuddin said - looking at the scorecard will not tell you how good an innings it was.

IMAM UL HAQ
305 runs at an average of 38.1; 1 hundred, 1 fifty

Along with Babar Azam, he forms the backbone of Pakistan's batting line up. I feel he gets a lot of unfair criticism. He has knocked 7 ODI hundreds in 18 months and has a great future ahead of him.

He scored a match winning knock against Bangladesh and perhaps the only thing we can criticize him for is that he did not kick on after getting starts - scores of 44, 53, 44, 19, and 36 suggests that he threw at away after doing the difficult bit.

With time and experience, he will surely improve on that. Can't really criticize an ODI batting average of 54.6 in 36 matches.

That century against Bangladesh at Lord's made him the youngest Pakistani batsman to score a World Cup hundred!

He is only 23 and has a long road ahead of him. Like Babar, he will win Pakistan many games going forward.

SHAHEEN AFRIDI
16 wickets at an average of 14.6; 1 five wicket haul

He is only 19 and his figures of 6-35 in Pakistan's last match against Bangladesh got him the record of best bowling figures by a Pakistani in a World Cup match, and the youngest ever to get a 5 wicket haul in a World Cup match.

His total tally of 16 wickets in the World Cup is the most by a player under 20 years of age.

He had a slow start as he got used to bowling on English wickets. But once he got the hang of it, he was simply fabulous. Especially in Pakistan's last 3 matches against New Zealand, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh where he finished with hauls of 3, 4, and 6 wickets respectively.

He is the future of Pakistan's bowling and as Michael Vaughan said, he will play in many more World Cup semifinals.


HARIS SOHAIL
198 runs at an average of 39.6; 2 fifties

Ignored for the initial part of the World Cup, Haris returned to the side against South Africa and produced one of the best knocks by a Pakistani batsman in World Cup history.

His 89 off only 59 deliveries, with 9 fours and 3 sixes, was simply sublime. It was the first time I witnessed Haris bat in such a manner. It was refreshing to see an attacking innings by a middle order batsman from Pakistan.

He followed that up with another match winning 68 against New Zealand where he was involved in a 126 run partnership with Babar that won Pakistan the game.

He is 30 so probably has another 5-6 years of international cricket left in him, during which time he can form the core of Pakistan's batting line up along with Babar and Imam. 

His talent is unquestionable and his record since returning to the team from injury is magnificent. I think we are yet to see his best though!



MOHAMMAD AAMIR
17 wickets at an average of 21.05; 1 five wicket haul

Much had been said about Aamir leading up to the world cup. Only 3 ODI wickets since the Champions Trophy; a bowling average of 95; not picked in initial World Cup squad; missed ODI vs England due to Chicken Pox; only in team because other bowlers failed.

All that went for a toss as soon as he took the field for Pakistan in the World Cup.

He showed the world that he is still Pakistan's spearhead. He picked up wickets in every game (barring Afghanistan), and ended as Pakistan's highest wicket taker in the World Cup.

At the end of the league stage he was the joint third highest wicket taker of the World Cup, with a better economy rate than the two bowlers above him.

Aamir truly came back to life in this World Cup and at 27 he still has many years of cricket left in him. Along with Shaheen, he forms a potent new ball pace attack and I am sure we will see many more match winning spells from him in the future.

15 out of his 17 wickets in this World Cup were of top order batsmen, which goes to show that Aamir was at the top of his game!


IMAD WASIM
162 runs at an average of 54.0 and strike rate of 118.24; 2 wickets; economy rate of 4.82

Imad Wasim is a proven match winner and a grossly underrated cricketer.

He does not pick up many wickets, but bowls with the best economy rate among all Pakistan bowlers. He scores at a fast pace and finishes off Pakistan's innings better than anyone else.

He was instrumental in winning Pakistan the game against Afghanistan and this was not the first time he had done so. His strike rate in the last 10 overs of an innings is above 150 and he is just the tonic that Pakistan needs in the lower order.

His batting average of 42.7, strike rate of 109, and World Cup innings of 46*(39), 23(15), 49*(54), and 43(26) shows his value at number 7.

At 30, he has his best years ahead of him where he will undoubtedly become one of the best finishers Pakistan has had.

Imad Wasim, the saviour of Pakistan cricket!

WAHAB RIAZ
11 wickets at an average of 36.3; 88 runs at a strike rate of 127.5; 6 sixes

Wahab is a champion cricketer. A superstar. No one fought harder for Pakistan than he did in this World Cup.

There is something about Wahab and World Cups. 2011, 2015, and now 2019 - each World Cup has seen a special performance from this champ.

In between those World Cups, he has been average at best, but in those World Cups he has shone like no one else.

Match winning wickets, match winning cameos, match winning sixes, match winning catches, Wahab did it all.

He is 34, and I don't know how much more he will play. But he has done his bit and Pakistan's youngsters will not do too bad if they take a leaf out of Wahab's book on fighting spirit.

You know he hit more sixes than anyone in the Pakistan team in this World Cup?


SHADAB KHAN
9 wickets at an average of 35.5

He did not take the World Cup by storm but in bursts showed the world why he is rated so highly by Pakistanis. His match winning wickets against England (Jason Roy and Joe Root) and New Zealand (Kane Williamson) were enough to show his worth.

He may have performed at a better level had he not fallen ill before the World Cup, but even then he has done enough to show that he can be a match winner for Pakistan.

He is only 20 years old, the best limited overs leg spinner in Pakistan currently, and the best fielder in the country. He has a long road ahead and forms part of Pakistan's current core. With an improvement in his batting he can form a solid lower order along with Imad Wasim.


MOHAMMAD HAFEEZ
253 runs at an average of 31.6; 1 fifty; 2 wickets; economy rate of 5.9

He had an average world cup. Besides his 84 against England that helped Pakistan put on a match winning total of 348, he got starts in every match and then threw it all away.

Like his entire ODI career, he has got a string of beautiful knocks of 20s and 30s. Pakistan needed him to keep going but he was a major reason for many a collapse during the World Cup.

He is 38 and should have called it a day along with Shoaib Malik. Not sure what is thinking right now. Surely he is not and cannot be a part of Pakistan's future plans.

He has had a good enough career and I think he needs to move on and let Pakistan find a solid aggressive middle order batsman.


FAKHAR ZAMAN
186 runs at an average of 23.25; 1 fifty

Fakhar was a major disappointment in the World Cup. Pakistan banked on him for positive starts and he failed to give them any.

He only managed to get going against India and South Africa, but in both games he threw it all away.

He is capable of so much more. His potential is so much more than what he showed. He is immensely talented. But the rut he is in has prolonged and something needs to be done to get him out of it.

Maybe he needs some rest, maybe he needs to go back to domestic cricket to find his touch back. He can't go on like this.

He could have done more, but I do think that he will come out of it. He is too talented and dedicated not to. He has plenty of cricket left in him and once he can get his confidence back he can be back to his power hitting ways for Pakistan at the top of the order.


HASAN ALI
2 wickets at an average of 128 and economy rate of 7.75

Clearly the biggest disappointment of Pakistan's World Cup campaign. Or maybe not considering Shoaib Malik was also there.

Just 18 months ago, Hasan was the World's number 1 ODI bowler. Now he is at number 41! Such has been his decline.

Don't know what has gone wrong with him but he just can't pick up wickets any more the way he used to. And he gets smashed around as well.

He definitely needs a rest and a run in domestic cricket. If he can get back to his best, he can form a seriously dangerous pace attack along with Aamir and Shaheen, but till then he needs to find his form back in the domestic circuit.

SHOAIB MALIK, MOHAMMAD HASNAIN, and ASIF ALI

Shoaib Malik played three matches, scored 8,0, and 0, and retired from ODIs. His time was up.

I have no idea Mohammad Hasnain was even selected. Good pace sure, but too raw and needs to learn a lot still. He didn't get a single game and Pakistan may have been better served by a Junaid Khan or an Usman Khan Shinwari.

Asif Ali played only 2 matches and scored 14 and 5, before he was dropped. He has huge potential to be a long term number 6 for Pakistan, but he needs to develop a second and third gear. He needs to learn the art of building an ODI innings, and not only be a smasher. He has a future with Pakistan, but not before some hard lessons at the NCA and domestic cricket.

SARFARAZ AHMED
143 runs at an average of 28.6; 1 fifty

I'll be honest and say that I am confused about him. Should he continue as Pakistan captain or should he be sacked? Is he good enough to bat in Pakistan's top 6? Is he good enough to be Pakistan's wicket keeper?

His World Cup performance as a player was about average. His performance for a long time now has been below par and Pakistan can arguably do with a better and more aggressive wicket keeper batsman.

But are there any around in Pakistan? And no, Mohammad Rizwan is not an answer.

However, as a captain, he showcased his resilience by picking the team up following the defeats to Australia and India. After the personal attacks he was under and the barrage of criticism that the team received, it was no easy task to lift the morale of the players.

In that aspect, Sarfaraz shone and rose to the occasion.

There are players like Imad Wasim (with U19 captaincy experience) around who can take over, but I am not sure if that is the right call. Or is it?

Time will tell, which way the PCB decides to go.



I believe Pakistan has a solid ODI team, which has the potential to become world beaters. A top 4 with each batsman averaging 47+, a young pace attack with the firepower reminiscent of Pakistan's hey days, good allrounders that can become great finishers, and one of the best leg spinners in the world.

The only thing that is missing, in my opinion, are solid middle order batsmen that can play aggressive and powerful ODI cricket at numbers 5 and 6. Asif Ali is perhaps a long term solution for one of those spots, but we need more.

If Fakhar can't get back to his best form, Pakistan has the likes of Abid Ali and the returning Sharjeel Khan whose ban will be up in a couple of months.

This team can do wonders for Pakistan and they have a lot of cricket left in them. I have no doubt that they will continue to improve and win a lot of games for Pakistan going forward.

Make your pitch on this post...



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3 Pitched:

  1. Unknown said...
     

    Well written , Fakhar needs to go back and play domestic . He has too many flaws

  2. Unknown said...
     

    Yes agree.hevneedscto work on his technique big time. Very circumspect on his off stumbs bowlers the world over have sussed him out. Needs to go back and work really hard. Hear he's a nice chap but now he has to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and fight like a gladiator! Come on boy show your firepower!!!

  3. Unknown said...
     

    Great article!

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