The format of the Champions Trophy doesn’t give any side a chance to recover from shabby performances early on in the series. Only two matches into the event, and the realisation has dawned on Pakistan that they have been knocked out of series. It is a sad and abrupt end to their campaign since they arrived in England with a side that had the capability to go all the way. As they have often done in the past though, they have lacked the consistency for the big occasion, as a result of which they will be packing their bags post the inconsequential match against India.
Without doubt, Pakistan’s batsmen have been the biggest culprits in the country’s early exit from the tournament. In two games, they have managed scores of 167 and 170 all out, totals associated with minnow nations. Pakistan’s disastrous performance has been a clear case of only two batsmen showing the application needed to succeed at the highest level even as the rest have been mere passengers. Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq has led from the front with the bat, scoring a hard-fought 96 not out and 55 in the two games. Opener Nasir Jamshed on the other hand has contributed 50 and 42. About the rest, the less said the better.
The stats of some of the seniors would be highly disheartening as far as Pakistan cricket is concerned. Imran Farhat has made 2 and 2 in the two matches, Mohammad Hafeez has notched up scores of 4 and 7 while former skipper Shoaib Malik has managed 0 and 8 in his two visits to the crease. The most disappointing aspect of their underperformance has been that they haven’t been scoring for a while now. Hafeez’s technique has constantly failed him in challenging conditions, Farhat remains erratic as ever and Malik hasn’t been the same since making a comeback.
Very soon, Pakistan must make a call on these non-performing assets of the side else there will be further disappointments in store for them in the near future. Karman Akmal is another man who hasn’t done anything in the series. But, he has still made a contribution the team as a wicket-keeper, which may also keep him in the side for longer, as may be the fact that Pakistan don’t seem to have a suitable replacement as of now. In comparison to the above names, Asad Shafiq is relatively raw, but he needs to work on his game as well.
If Pakistan can get their batting in place, they will automatically win a lot more games, since their bowling is high class without doubt. In both the losses, their bowlers made an impact and, in fact, kept their team in the game. Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz all have had their fair share of success while Saeed Ajmal has been impactful as always, but their achievements have been pretty much nullified by some extraordinarily poor batting. If there is one stern lesson that Pakistan must learn from the latest disaster, it is that they need to show tremendous improvement in batting.
--By A Cricket Analyst