Pakistan bowed out of the Asia Cup 2018, daunting their confidence even further after a dismal display of cricket. Bangladesh were better in every department; they out-batted, out-bowled and out-fielded Pakistan.
Bangladesh’s victory meant that the Mashrafe Mortaza’s men will meet an in-form Indian side led by Rohit Sharma on Friday, September 28 at Dubai International Stadium.
Today we look back at what went wrong in the game that knocked Pakistan out of the tournament. Here are 5 possible reasons for the defeat.
Toss plays a huge role in the United Arab Emirates as most of the matches are won by setting targets and defending the totals after that fateful flip of the coin.
Bangladesh had the upper hand after doing the first thing right: winning the toss. What followed afterwards was a sheer display of poor captaincy complicating matters.
Having Bangladesh down at 12-3 in the 5th over, it needed some aggression by the captain to bundle out the opposition for a meager total. 239 can’t be labelled as meager if we consider Pakistan’s batting woes.
While we cannot take anything away from the duo of Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Mithun, but another slip when they were batting would have had Bangladesh 4 down in no time.
Introducing spinners so early in the game, despite the fast bowlers doing a brilliant job with the new ball, meant that two good players of spin were allowed to develop a big partnership,which changed the complexion of the match.
Although it was a brave decision from Sarfraz to promote himself up the order and absorb all the pressure, it showed great courage. However, his inability to bat got in the way and disrupted his plans to steer Pakistan towards the victory. It takes good technical ability to tackle the threat of a new ball and Sarfraz could not sustain such pressure because he is not a technically sound batsman, which is a limitation. So the question begs: What good is a captain who cannot deliver with the bat and does a mediocre job as a captain?
In hindsight, the decision to promote Shadab Khan up the order also made little sense. Asif Ali’s natural game comprises of aggressive shots. Had Asif been sent earlier, he would have played much more openly knowing that Shadab is still remaining and even if he loses his wicket after getting 40 odd runs quickly, Imam and Shadab can steer the innings home. Instead, Shadab being stuck in the crease not only put pressure on himself but on Imam as well.
3. Mickey Arthur
The time is right to question the Head Coach’s policies.
It is the selection committee’s duty to pick the squad, but a coach of Mickey Arthur’s stature and the power he enjoys in the cricketing matters of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), it is hard to believe that he didn’t have anything to do with the selection. Not choosing another specialist spinner was a grave mistake and playing a half-fit Shadab was another. Then again, there was no other spinner in the team, was there?
Sarfraz looked like sticking to a plan as he introduced the spinners. Mickey’s plans? Well, it looks so.
Even if Sarfraz wasn’t taking the right decisions, it doesn’t take long to send a substitute player with a message. Mickey Arthur could have chipped in with his years of coaching wisdom.
4. Big Guns Not Firing
In the past year or so, Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam have proved to be the best batsmen in the side along with the veteran Shoaib Malik. Fakhar needs to be reminded that he is a main player and he can take the reviews in crunch situations.
None of the main players managed to get going in the game against Bangladesh. Other players need to understand their roles as well if Pakistan is to become a dominant one day force in the world.
Sarfraz also needs to step up and do his bit. A captain must lead from the front which hasn’t been the case for a long time.
After two thumping defeats against arch-rivals India, Pakistani players were down and out. Even the game against Afghanistan couldn’t help win their confidence back. It was a close shave after all.
Talking about the matches against Bangladesh, Pakistan has lost 4 matches in a row including a 3-0 whitewash in Bangladesh. While every game is a new game, but such results are always at the back of your mind, daunting your morale. While some take it as a motivation to not repeat those mistakes again, others crumble under pressure.
What is your take on Pakistan’s poor Asia Cup outing? Let us know in the comments section.