Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka T20s - Over Reaction Much?

Pakistan played its first international match under the new regime of Misbah Ul Haq against Sri Lanka a couple of weeks back and convincingly won the ODI by 60 odd runs.

They posted a 300+ total on back of a Babar Azam century, a Fakhar Zaman fifty, and a late flourish from Iftikhar Ahmed who looked very promising on his return to the international fold.

Pakistan followed that win with another one, this time chasing down a 290 odd score with few balls to spare. They won it comfortably by 5 wickets and Iftikhar was there once again at the end.

The successful chase was set up by the openers - Fakhar who followed his 54 with a 76, and Abid Ali who impressed once again with a well made 74.

Abid looks like a million bucks in the middle.

ODI series won 2-0 and there was hardly any hue and cry about it. Pakistan extended its ODI winning streak to 7 and no one made any noise about it.

That's fine. It was a second string Sri Lankan team so wins were expected.

But chasing 290 odd is not something Pakistan does often, so I feel it was a great win.

Moving on to the T20s and Pakistan could not have started off on a worse footing.

The first public reaction was to the return of Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal to Pakistan's T20 squad. Just this resulted in tremendous amount of criticism for the new Chief Selector / Head Coach, Misbah Ul Haq.

How could he bring both of them back into the team?

Shehzad and Umar Akmal are tried, tested, and failed batsmen at the International level so what really resulted in them being recalled?

For starters, Pakistan's two most experienced T20 batsmen, Shoaib Malik (averaging 44 in T20s since 2016) and Mohammad Hafeez (averaging 31 since 2016) were unavailable due to their CPL commitments.

This meant, Pakistan needed 2 replacements for the squad. But no one expected the 2 replacements to be Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal.

Umar Akmal had not played a T20 for Pakistan since he was axed in September 2016, while Shehzad was dropped in June 2018.

So they must have done something during this time to warrant selection, right? Let us take a look.


In PSL 2019, Ahmed Shehzad scored 311 runs at an average of 51.83 and strike rate of 126.93. He knocked 4 fifties in 8 innings with a highest score of 99.

Shehzad was one of the only two batsmen who averaged 50+ during the PSL. The other was AB De Villiers.

This performance justifies selection in my opinion. But what I don't understand is that while Pakistan's first choice openers in T20s - Fakhar and Babar - are fit and fine and performing, what is the need of an Ahmed Shehzad? And what is the need to drop Fakhar and play Shehzad? And what is the need of playing Shehzad at #3 when all his runs have been scored while opening?

Selection might be justified, but giving him opportunities over Fakhar makes no sense.

Umar did not even have a great PSL 2019 like Shehzad. He scored 277 runs in 10 innings at an average of 34.62 and strike rate of 137.12.

Decent numbers, but there were many who performed better than this; for example Imam Ul Haq (who is not considered a T20 batsman) and Umar's elder brother Kamran Akmal who was the leading national run scorer in PSL 2019 (behind only Shane Watson).

In December 2018, there was a National T20 Cup played in Pakistan. Umar Akmal played 5 matches scoring 109 runs at an average of 21.8.

Surely this performance does not deserve selection. There was a plethora of local batsmen who were far more impressive than Umar Akmal.

So while Shehzad's case of being selected still holds merit, Umar Akmal's does not.

Both of them however could have proven every one wrong through their performances but their failures in the two T20 losses to Sri Lanka have made them become a laughing stock.

Especially Umar Akmal who registered a golden duck in both games!

Misbah and Sarfraz have to be blamed for selecting them, playing them over the likes of Fakhar, Haris, and Iftikhar, and then persisting with them.

But I feel the reaction from the public has been a bit overboard.

I mean there are people out there calling for Misbah's head over this.

Give the guy a break for God's sake.

Pakistan just won the ODI series 2-0. I didn't see any praise from anyone. In fact no one even discussed the matches.

But the moment Pakistan loses two games, people are out with their knives and guns.

Bit overboard I feel.

The World T20 is a year away. Pakistan will play a dozen or so T20s before that tournament. This is not enough international exposure for new blood to be inducted into the team. There isn't enough time for preparation.

I also feel that Pakistan's T20 team is well set so you don't really need new players.

Shehzad and Akmal were brought back to fill in the shoes of Malik and Hafeez and with the CPL coming to a close, Pakistan's veterans will be back and the two prodigal sons will return to the wilderness.

I really don't think such reaction is warranted over what has happened. 

Make your pitch on this post...

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3 Pitched:

  1. Cricleads Cricket Prediction said...

    thaks you so much for this Today Match Prediction

  2. Saurabh jain said...

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  3. Talha Anwar said...

    The rivalry between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in cricket is a sight to behold. With a rich history of thrilling encounters, this clash of titans never fails to excite fans worldwide. It's a platform for emerging talent and a celebration of sportsmanship at its finest.pak vs sri

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