Exactly two years ago, Pakistan surprised the cricket world by winning the Champions trophy. It was a moment to cherish for Pakistan fans as they defeated their arch-rivals in the final battle. A young cricket team winning an ICC tournament against all odds tricked Pakistan fans into believing that this could be the start of something big but it has been downhill ever since.
Fast forward to today, Pakistan is virtually out of the World Cup after a thumping defeat at the hands of India. And it is time to reevaluate where it all went wrong for the men in green.
Even before the World Cup started, decisions made by the selection committee to not include their best performer surprised everyone. Usman Shinwari, despite being Pakistan’s best pace bowler since Champions trophy (Picking 28 wickets at an average of only 19.32) was dropped for no reason at all. Muhammad Rizwan did all he could do to cement a place in the World Cup squad, performing for the A team and scoring two centuries in the series against Australia but veteran Shoaib Malik, who averages merely 13 in England was preferred over him, despite the fact that Rizwan is a better fielder, more fit (scored highest in the YoYo test) and can keep the wickets in Sarfaraz’s absence too. Moreover, Muhammad Hasnain is yet to feature in a game in the World Cup. A slot wasted?
Batting collapse is something all Pakistan Cricket fans are familiar with. Pakistan’s batting lineup has struggled when it comes to chasing and crumbled under pressure time and time again. Versus Australia, Pakistan collapsed from 136/2 to 160/6 and lost 4 wickets for only 12 runs against India collapsing from 117/1 to 129/5. Halfway through the World Cup, no batsman from Pakistan team has scored a ton in the mega event.
Pakistan’s bowling has always remained its strength but not going into this World Cup. Pakistan’s inability to take wickets with the new ball continued at the World Cup, allowing India and Australia to get off to flying starts. Hassan Ali has looked like a shadow of his former self in recent times, averaging 97.66 in 2019. Apart from Muhammad Aamir (who wasn’t part of the initial squad), Pakistan’s bowling performance has been dreadful and well below expectations. While Aamir built the pressure and restricted opposition from scoring freely, short and wide bowling from others took the game away from Pakistan’s hands. Pakistan has conceded 300+ runs in 8 of their last 9 completed games.
Fielding has never been Pakistan’s strong suit. Pakistan has been shambolic in the field and they have paid the price for it. In the game vs Australia, Asif Ali dropped Aaron Finch, who was batting on 26, went on to score 82. Asif Ali dropped David Warner later in the same game as well. One would expect a professional team to learn from its mistake but the Green Shirts didn’t, as they missed two chances to send Rohit Sharma back to pavilion in the next game. Sharma scored 140 runs in the game winning the Man of the Match award.
Pakistan is the only team in the tournament to have registered a negative fielding score in the tournament and with a fielding display like that, Pakistan can’t compete and win against the best teams in the World as seen in the last two games where they got outplayed by Australia and India in the field.
A terrible drop by Asif Ali in the slips and Pakistan's fielding goes from bad to worse. Across the tournament, they are the only team to have registered a negative fielding score in terms of runs saved. #CWC19 #AusvPak pic.twitter.com/2XpA6yMAq5
— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) June 12, 2019
Although Pakistan’s chances of qualifying to the next round look bleak, let’s hope Pakistan Cricket Team will bounce back from this defeat and perform better in the next games, providing something to cheer about for the otherwise disappointed Pakistan fans.