“Lumber 1 team!” dare I say. Cricket is often times a very funny game; one moment, you’re lost in a carnival of delights and the next, it leads you to a place where you, as a fan, want to pull your fingernails out.
As a cricketer, you always want to perform in the toughest of conditions and what better place than touring “Down Under.” Lush Green outfields, zip-through pitches, bouncy decks; the cricketing gods have always been kind and yet somehow, the Green Shirts never cease to make a mockery of themselves in one way or the other. Needless to say, they take the word “Down Under” quite literally.
Now when Misbah took over the role of Chief Selector and Head Coach, it felt bittersweet. On one hand, it was very hard to see a professional coach like Micky Arthur leaving the realm. On the other, it was very refreshing to see a guy take on both the roles – just as in football, and implementing his own vision throughout. The problem that lay here was the fact that Misbah had absolutely zero experience and with the T20 World Cup just around the corner, this decision could have proved costly.
Just as suspected, the start to his reign was rather tumultuous. Sacking your captain, no matter how agitated he makes you feel at times, is never a good start. Also, when he has won you 10+ consecutive series, made you the number one T20I side along with winning you the Champions’ Trophy. You, then, replace him with a guy who scored a century against the Aussies on flat decks of UAE. Tuk-Tuk himself has made the then joint-fastest test century against the same opponents, now let that sink in! Adding insult to injury, Babar Azam – a guy who is barely vocal, was named the T20I captain.
It got more miserable when Misbah announced the touring squad. Shades of 2010 rang bells as the team left for Australia in the name of Allah. Now, as a fan, you always have faint glimmers of hope whenever the green shirts are in action but the inevitable followed as it turned out to be a David vs Goliath contest. The only exception to it was Australia, clearly the Goliath here, beating the living daylights out of us despite us having a 7 footer among the ranks, ironic isn’t it?
We were outplayed in all three of the matches, losing the last one by 10 wickets. The batting faltered and the bowling line-up was a mess which makes complete sense as to why PCB has been denying our players NOCs to play overseas.
Rizwan, who was brought in place of Sarfaraz, could barely break the shackles. Starc’s bouncers literally bounced over his head and the fashion in which he got dismissed in the final match, one could literally drive a bus through the gap between his bat and pads. Babar’s captaincy, as expected, was questionable but he showed why he is the number one T20I batsman.
Do not, for one moment, let Ifthikhar fool you with his 80+ odd runs in the final two matches. He barely timed the ball and most of his shots were top edges. Imad couldn’t stop copying Ronaldo for some reason and Fakher Zaman looked like a kid lost in a park. I don’t know if Shadab was even playing and Irfan’s inclusion in the side was as confusing to me as Jack’s statement of being on top of the world – whilst aboard Titanic, when he was literally at the lowest possible point on this planet – scientifically speaking.
What baffles me the most is the fact that Pakistan has, somehow, managed to retain their top spot despite all of this. With the T20Is now done and dusted and test matches on the horizon, Pakistan will be going in without the likes of Aamir, Wahab and Hasan Ali. Will Misbah and Waqar channel all of their experience and turn this situation around or are we in for another dismal test series? Only time will tell but for now, I’ll only say Go Greens!
By Ahmer Zaman
Department of Mechatronics