Pakistan cricket made a valiant effort to revive its fortunes after a dismal performance in the ICC World Cup in England in May-July. The coaching crew was changed and former captain Misbah-ul-Haq was roped in for the dual roles of the head coach and chief selector. Misbah even gave chances to discards like Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad but they didn’t deliver.
The hosts and the No.1 team in T20Is ended up losing the T20I series to a second-string Sri Lankan team 0-3. The result has put Pakistan’s new coaching staff before fresh questions. The team did well to beat the Islanders 2-0 in the three-ODI series (the first match was washed out) but the defeat in the T20Is has given birth to questions like whether Pakistan did it right in letting the veterans Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik skip the series.
Both players in their late 30s failed to impress in the 50-over World Cup and were allowed to play in the CPL. Of the two, Malik has quit ODIs after the conclusion of Pakistan’s campaign at the World Cup. Rather, Pakistan wanted to try out the youngsters and experiment a bit.
Speaking at a press conference after the game along with captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, Misbah acknowledged that the responsibility for the defeat falls on his shoulders but also said that one could not expect changes in a span of 10 days. “Of course, the responsibility falls on me but this is the same team that has been playing for four years. How much would I have coached in 10 days?” he said.
Sri Lanka’s performance an example, Misbah says
The 45-year-old former national captain, who played his final international game as recently as in 2017, instead asked for lessons to be learnt from the way Sri Lanka performed despite not having their full-strength team and losing the ODIs.
“The performance of the Sri Lankan teams is an example for us. They outclassed us completely. We did not beat them in any of the three departments. All matches and the series were one-sided. We need to find the answers to a lot of questions. This was disappointing,” Misbah-ul-Haq added.
The coach-cum-chief selector also hinted at a possible return of the two veterans – Hafeez and Malik—both of whom were left out of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s contracts after the World Cup. The senior duo’s ability to tackle spin bowling is what made them popular with the coach yet.
“This was an eye-opener for us and you as well. The way we go after the seniors. What we did in the World Cup. We forget their performances. These two (Hafeez and Malik) play the spinners so well and we had this problem for the entire series. We were unable to pick their leg spinner,” Misbah said.