Yet another mismatch has been added to a long list of forgettable matches for Pakistan as India, for the second time in the tournament, humiliated and overpowered the Pakistani side.
It remains a wonder how a team, which had been doing so well in limited-overs, can surrender so easily to their biggest rivals; some call it nerves while others chalk it to the difference of standards and quality between both sides.
Following the second loss to India yesterday in Asia Cup, Pakistan’s skipper took the center stage and made some extremely immature remarks while explaining the reasons for the loss.
Although there weren’t a lot of positives to take away from the losses against India but here are a few things which Pakistan need to rethink moving forward.
1) Micky Arthur’s Days Are Numbered
From a personal perspective, I have never been an admirer of foreign coaches and the main reason is that they are not accustomed to the culture of Pakistan’s cricket which makes a world of difference. The language is another very realistic concern that players have to deal with, which creates a communication barrier.
Under Micky Arthur, a lot of emphasis has been put on fitness and fielding. While the former has been arguably improved, the latter remains a concerning factor. Pakistan has already dropped 7 catches in Asia Cup — most of them being straight forwarded ones.
On the other hand, Micky’s focus has entirely been on the fitness, while major factors like bowling and batting continue to be neglected. The batsmen continue to make the same mistakes while bowlers keep following a defensive plan. The only impact coaching has had so far on players can be seen in Hasan Ali and Fakhar Zaman’s performance, who performed well until they weren’t coached into adopting a role that doesn’t suit them.
Pakistan’s use of reviews has been dismal, most batsmen are making simple mistakes while running between the mistakes and bowlers seem to have forgotten how to bowl yorkers and bouncers when required.
All things put together, Micky Arthur is overstaying his welcome and there is no doubt about that. Likes of Javed Miandad, Majid Khan, Wasim Akram and Abdul Qadir are all available to fill out the necessary roles within the PCB management — all of them have played at the highest level, understand the game and can relate to Pakistan’s culture of cricket. So, why not?
When looking at foreign coaches, the Australian Dean Jones, the coach of Islamabad United, has always been a fan of Pakistan cricket and has openly admitted that he wants to coach the Pakistani side. His track record in the PSL is also a plus and he’s shown he can work with young Pakistani players like Shadab, Faheem and Asif.
2) Shaheen Afridi & Usman Shinwari Need to Start
It seemed like a fairytale when Mohammad Amir made his comeback after serving his ban but it is far from reality. The left-arm pacer has found it extremely difficult to settle back in the side. There has been a significant drop in Amir’s pace along with limited movement – swing and nip – which used to his x-factor.
With a decline in Aamir’s performance since his comeback and Hasan Ali’s overconfidence being his biggest enemy, Pakistan needs to shift things around and give more chances to Afridi and Shinwari, who are arguably the hungriest of all to prove a point.
Shaheen Afridi made his debut against Afghanistan and despite best efforts from Pakistani fielders to ruin his big day by dropping 3 catches off his bowling, the young sensation still made an impact. Afridi reminds us of Mohammad Irfan due to his height but shows great promise with his swing and other varieties. Pairing him with Usman Shinwari, who has proven to be a workhorse, can be the way forward for Pakistan.
3) Free Fakhar Zaman!
Often times players are caught in the middle when they are asked to do the opposite of what they are used to doing; one such example would be Fakhar Zaman. Although the left-hander had a tremendous year, it did not reflect in both his performances against India.
Zaman’s natural ability to go after bowlers is what made him stand out and what seemed to be a cautious approach against India, hindered his performances. In many ways, Fakhar is a much-calculated version of Shahid Afridi, who also looked out of his comfort zone when asked to not play aggressive cricket.
Why can’t Fakhar be Pakistan’s David Warner or Chris Gayle? Allow him to play his natural game and groom him along the way to be more responsible.
4) Sarfraz — Makeshift Captain at Best
There is no denying that the Sarfraz fever is slowly but surely fading. What Pakistan has achieved under Sarfraz’s captaincy is an overachievement and it should not be forgotten as it can have devastating effects in the future.
Skippers are tasked to make tough choices, choices which often pay off. However, Sarfraz’s decisions are almost always on the safer side which often end up costing Pakistan in a neck-to-neck battle.
Some decisions may seem minute but they can prove to be either extremely costly or a stroke of genius at the end of the day. Decisions such as opening the bowling attack with Mohammad Nawaz, who is a T20 specialist bowler who has an abundance of experience when it comes to taking early wickets or perhaps decisions such as having a slip fielder for the opening 5-10 overs, where the ball edged multiple times off of Rohit Sharma and Dhawan both.
Pakistan could not have defended the relatively lower totals in both games without taking wickets and Pakistan were just not aggressive enough on both occasions.