Is it the bottom? Certainly feels like it

Pakistani Cricket is currently in a shambles. After the bruising tour of Australia, it is clear that the ODI team is need of a major overhaul, in both personnel and the leadership. The test side, which appeared good up until the tour of England, has also gone into a landslide, losing 6 tests on the bounce starting from the surprising loss against West Indies in the UAE.

All the trusted faces have been serving up just about one innings per series, with the exception of Misbah, whose consistently poor shot selection has left many wondering if he is the right man going forward. Younis, the golden warrior, the saving grace, has been taking an awful lot of time getting started in a series. It took him 7 innings in England to post his first notable score, and a combined 9 in New Zealand and Australia. Is he the guy we play in each test just on the off chance he might score big, or is this just a matter of his ten thousandth run, before we are ready to bid him goodbye, too?

The bowling, which was for so long Pakistan’s safety deposit to win matches even after average batting displays, has been ineffective- in no small part thanks to the astonishingly poor fielding standards. Mohammad Aamir has been the key victim, and though he has bowled quite well, his stats make for worrisome reading among the fans who were keenly awaiting his return to the side. Yasir Shah was exposed brutally in this tour as well, with his field placements and strategies not helping his case at all. Pakistan tried multiple combinations of fast bowlers, but all looked hapless in the face of ruthless run-making from the Australians.

The tour of Australia has always been a very tough ordeal for the Pakistani side, highlighted by the fact that we haven’t won a test there in the last 22 years. But while this tour was certainly not as bad as the last one, when we failed to win a single match and half the team was handed long term bans in the aftermath of the tour, it was still very ordinary compared to the standard the team has set since then. Misbah has been a great leader over the past 6 years, but his captaincy in this tour, visible especially in managing Yasir Shah, was surprising to say the least and ludicrous if you are willing to go that far. Failing to demonstrate any plans or strategies, the team was subjected to a drubbing bar an excellent Asad Shafiq century which almost pulled off a historic chase. A word in praise of Azhar Ali though, who persevered admirably and consistently through the series.

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Azhar Ali scored a double-ton in the second test

In the ODI series though, his shortcomings in the shorter format were exposed cruelly. As captain he failed to achieve results or performances, and did little with the bat to even justify his place in the team. The only ODI the team won was where they restricted Australia to 220 in the first innings, under Hafeez’s captaincy. Other than that, all matches demonstrated increasingly shambolic bowling and fielding, with the best(worst?) saved for the last, where Australian openers alone amassed 284, and Hasan Ali gave away 100 runs in nine overs.

This team is broken-mentally and physically. Tours like these test the mettle of the best teams, and Pakistan has been revealed short of the required standard. Our ODI ranking of 8 is maybe not unjust after all. But the good thing is, the only way is up. Get some fresh faces in, and let’s start rebuilding. We have done it before, we can do it again.

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