By Naeem-ul-Haq in USA
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Biased selection, mismanagement, player power and inept captaincy were the major causes of Pakistan’s flop show in the Cricket World Cup 2023 as the returning national team faces a barrage of criticism. Dishonesty was also an obvious factor which created rifts and tension among the cricketers leading to chaos and dismal performance.
The quartet Babar Azam, Shaheen Khan Afridi, Muhammad Rizwan and Shadab Khan had been running the show for the past three years. These four guys were observed working in unison as they pursued identical goals of controlling the affairs of the game.
There was a change of guard at the headquarters of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) more than one time during this period but the unity between these four didn’t let any helmsman to implement his own vision. Different chief selectors also came and went without having the guts to contain players’ power.
The Babar-led Pakistan outfit managed to accumulate ranking points by whipping soft opponents. The skipper himself and Rizwan scored heavily in these matches while Shaheen also performed exceptionally well with the ball. Shadab, however, was unable to deliver the goods even against these sides and fingers were being pointed at him all along.
Everybody knew that he didn’t deserve a place in the World Cup squad as a bowling all-rounder but nobody could throw him out because of his bonding with Babar, Rizwan and Shaheen.
Imad Wasim was much better choice as a spinning all-rounder but it’s a common knowledge that Babar didn’t like him. Muhammad Nawaz, despite his inconsistency with bat and ball, was the preferred option and the whole world saw the humiliation caused by him at crunch moments. The decision of ignoring mystery spinner Abrar Ahmad and choosing Usama Mir was mind-boggling as well.
Saud Shakeel and Salman Ali Agha were drafted in the contingent at the eleventh hour. While Saud justified his selection by chipping in with little contributions there was not much opportunity for Salman to showcase his skills. Even Saud needs to learn about converting those starts into something substantial if he is to become a regular member of Pakistan’s ODI playing eleven.
With the Pakistani batsmen, barring a couple of occasions, failing to get big scores the pressure mounted on their own bowlers who were then taken to the cleaners by the opposing power-hitters. The policy of not allowing Haris Rauf to operate with new ball didn’t make sense and heavy price was paid for it.
The captaincy of Babar was far from impressive during the course of the tournament. He was supposed to be the pivot of the team but he disappointed all his fans as runs didn’t flow from his bat and there was hardly any element of surprise at his resignation following the debacle in India.