With Pakistan losing the T20I series against Sri Lanka or should it be said, a weak Sri Lankan side, Misbah-Ul-Haq is under the pump.
Criticism started as soon as two tried and tested failures, Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal, were drafted into the T20 squad. It wasn’t as if two youngsters were given an opportunity. It was a case of, as it would be called, recyclables getting picked again. And without any surprises, the duo put Pakistan under immense pressure in the first game specially. Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad were batting in the top 3 in that game. And both went cheaply, putting pressure on the middle and lower middle order. Pakistan lost the game right there and then. And could not recover from the shock in time before the second T20I. The events repeated themselves and Pakistan lost a series which otherwise should have been won comfortably.
Taking a look into the past when Misbah was Pakistan’s limited overs captain, nothing was different than this. Chaos surrounded Pakistan’s limited overs cricket when Misbah was in charge as captain. Pakistan slumped to number 7 in both T20 and ODI cricket under Misbah. And it was his outdated, defensive approach towards limited overs cricket, that Pakistan regressed so much in white ball cricket under him.
Now that Misbah is in charge of Pakistan cricket, not as captain, but as head coach and chief selector, the worry is that where will Pakistan’s limited overs cricket go under him? We have already seen a glimpse of what he has got to offer at least in the shortest format of the game. And with the T20 world cup just 12 months away, he will have to change his approach or else Pakistan will suffer in the only format which has brought good results for it. He needs to be fearless and get youngsters into the team. Experimenting with young, untested players is fine but to repeatedly try the tested ones is a sin. Pakistan could have easily won the series had they selected properly.
Fakhar should have opened with Babar Azam in the first game. Haris Sohail should have been played at 3. Followed by Sarfaraz Ahmed and Iftikhar Ahmed at 5 and 6 respectively. Then Asif Ali followed by the two all rounders. This would have given Pakistan a confident unit. Haris Sohail got a beautiful half century in the T20I against England at Cardiff in May. Dropping him was just beyond a sane cricketing mind.
Having commented on the poor selection, nothing should cover up the disastrous bowling performance of Pakistan in this series. Pakistan have lost 5 of the 6 T20Is they have played this year. And in all the games the bowling has been hammered. The bowlers leaked runs in South Africa, could not defend a sizeable total against England, and leaked runs against Sri Lanka as well. And the biggest worry is Shadab Khan. He just doesn’t look to pick wickets. Continues to bowl on the pads of left handers to avoid going for boundaries and doesn’t bowl the googly often. The googly doesn’t even spin now. Unbelievable that he has regressed as a bowler when he should have progressed.