Had Rip Van Winkle slept in 1996 and woken up in 2016, he would have supported Pakistan Cricket team in international cricket since they are the only ones who haven’t changed their style of the game in last 20 years.
They don’t know that there is a thing called Pinch-Hitters or that changing the batting order, using all-rounders and fighting till the final delivery of the match are still part of the game. Instead, they go for the age old techniques that have been ditched by other ODI and T20 playing nations.
So where did Azhar Ali go wrong? He made 3 ‘supposedly sane’ changes in the team but still lost the plot. He read the pitch wrong and decided to bat in bowler friendly conditions and that’s the reason why Pakistan was at one position 3 down for 2 runs. Had it not been for Sarfraz Ahmed Pakistan might have scored less runs that India and West Indies scored in a T20 game on Florida on the same day.
Gone are the days when scores of 250 or more were considered competitive in international cricket. Since the late 90s, the trend of batsmen scoring cautiously in the first few overs and blasting boundaries in the last 10 has vanished. Now every team has to deal with power plays; the rules are more in the batsmen’s favour than in the bowlers and above all batsmen have devised methods like switch-hitting, scoop and reverse sweep to confuse the bowlers. Foreign batsmen that is because except for Misbah ul Haq who is no more part of limited overs cricket, no one uses their brains while batting in the middle.
As for the bowling, Pakistan needs an express pacer who can rattle the stumps, an all-rounder who deliver the goods when the chips are down and an attacking spinner who can do what Saqlain Mushtaq and Saeed Ajmal used to do in their prime.
We also need to understand that a match isn’t over until you admit defeat; Pakistan’s last 2 overs were bowled by Hasan Ali and Yasir Shah because the captain had given hope. In the West Indies – India clash, the West Indian skipper Carlos Brathwaite captaining for the first time didn’t lose hope and gave the ball to Dwayne Bravo who stole victory from the hands of Indian batsmen and West Indies won the T20 encounter by 1 run.
What should Pakistan do to stage a comeback in the series, you ask? Azhar Ali should drop himself down the order and promote Babar Azam to number 3; Sarfraz Ahmed can be used as an opener otherwise Sami Aslam and Sharjeel Khan aren’t that bad an option.
Shoaib Malik needs to take responsibility or Mohammad Nawaz can be given another chance as he can both bowl and bat. The fast bowling unit shuld be retained as Hasan Ali showed promise; Wahab Riaz had the firepower and Mohammad Amir is – well – Mohammad Amir. Pakistan has all the chances in the wold to make a comeback in the series, they just don’t know what’s wrong with them.