Dominant in bilateral series, prey in big events

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It wasn’t expected that Pakistan U19 team will perform below the par after watching them outclassing South Africa by 7-0 and Sri Lanka by 3-2 at their backyard recently.

The poor performance by the young lads was way disappointing for the entire cricket fraternity and it left plenty of unanswered questions for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)’s current governing body led by chairman Ehsan Mani and CEO Wasim Khan.

Green shirts led by wicket-keeper batsman Rohail Nazir won just one match against Kuwait whereas lost two matches against India and Afghanistan respectively in a four-team group. This was the second time when Pakistan lost to rising Afghanistan who previously defeated them by five wickets in ICC U19 World Cup in 2018.

Even against Kuwait, Pakistani openers failed to resist and Mohammad Wasim, a fast bowler, in the end, struck the fastest half-century off just 20 balls to fill in the gaps.

Pakistan’s batting maestro, Javed Miandad feels that Pakistan U-19 team’s performance is embarrassing and said that instead of improving, their exhibition of cricket is getting poorer.

“I haven’t followed the Asia Cup much but yes I listened that they lost to Afghanistan for the second time in just a year,” he said while talking to ARY Sports. “It is embarrassing that teams are improving and we are going down day by day.”

It was not the first time that the Pakistan U19 team showed plenty of legacies during the big event like the Asia Cup. From 2016 to till date, Pakistan has won just three matches out of nine which clearly shows the system’s strength while preparing for multi-nation tournaments.

Meanwhile, during this period, the green shirts defeated Australia 2-0 in a three-match ODI series at their home ground while against New Zealand they clinched the series 1-0. It means that they are dominant in the series but the problem is somewhere in coping up with the pressure in the big events.

According to Miandad, players should be prepared for the task according to the situation. He thinks that PCB doesn’t run cricket affairs in an ideal way which can improve things and sometimes the board’s policies favour the timely requirements of high-ups.

“Your players need to be vigilant while playing a tournament. They should know the difference between a tournament and a series. There is a different pressure when you have to face the world’s top side,

“You can’t get the best of out of this cricket system. You are implementing old cultures with few changes which are not enough. A complete change will do something worthy and will revamp the core of the game at grassroots,” he said.

The PCB is marred with major concerns related to the junior team as they failed to adopt things rightly to stabilize the set-up. The team lacks set openers, middle-order batsmen and somewhere bowlers as well since the departure of Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Husnain, which put huge pressure on 19-years-old Naseem Shah who led the bowling charge.

Naseem, who played the last World Cup for the team and took five wickets, this time bagged just four wickets in three matches. Apart from him, Mohammad Abbas Afridi took five wickets while leg-spinner Qasim Akram stole the limelight in the last match against Kuwait with four wickets.

If we compare bowling stats of Naseem in events with series then there is a major difference as he bagged 12 wickets against South Africa in the last series. This performance was the major reason why he retained his place in the national side.

Afridi bagged 10 wickets altogether against Sri Lanka and South Africa but his performance in the Asia Cup was not up to the mark.

Coming onto team’s batsmen, skipper Rohail Nazir scored a total of 167 runs in the tournament, which includes a fighting century against India, while he failed to deliver in the rest of the games.

19-years-old Haider Ali, who stormed the batting charts against Sri Lanka and South Africa by scoring 550 runs altogether, managed to score just 43 runs in three matches in recently concluded Asian event.

No batsmen were able to support captain Rohail who often sails the sinking ship of his team. He has a strong track record this year after he scored 638 runs altogether against Sri Lanka and South Africa. The wicket-keeper batsman has played 29 matches for Pakistan U19 team and has scored 1116 runs at an average of 39.85.

The batsman who was hated by opponents for his resilience, Miandad opined that the more players should come out with more power and stamina to lead the team while playing as a unit.

“In any sport, you need teamwork. If one or two players are performing and rest are not then nothing will go in your favor. The whole team needs to be united to notch good results,” Miandad highlighted.

A part of Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup-winning squad, Miandad, stressed upon the need to provide complete education about the game to the players both on and off the field.

“See, everything is counted when you send players for an international tour, their physique, way of talking, nature, and performance. You can’t hide things in this modern world where social media is a strong mode of communication. The players should be prepared according to the modern-day requirements and they need to represent themselves in a positive way,” he maintained.

One more important reason behind the Asia Cup demise must be noted here that the PCB announced to replace a level-4 coach Azam Khan with a level-2 coach Ijaz Ahmed but retained Azam for the Asia Cup.

To this matter, Miandad highly criticized the cricket board and believes that no coach can work properly in such circumstances.

“This shows how serious PCB is while taking such major decisions. Definitely, the announcement had disturbed Azam. I am not blaming anyone but who will be able to concentrate properly when already know the future,

“If their plan was to remove Azam and bring Ijaz after the Asia Cup then what was the logic to announce it earlier? They would have waited for the event to be finished to keep the things certain,” he said.

On the other hand, the PCB had recently introduced more opportunities for the young cricketers according to the newly passed domestic structure. All 90 cricket associations have been asked to introduce cricket activities at school and college level to extract more talented players

The new domestic structure will make sure that all six cricket associations will conduct inter-city tournaments every year. All six winning teams will compete in the National City Championship under the banner of PCB.

The cricket board aims to extract as much talent as they can through this newly enforced domestic structure. The intentions are right, the plan seems to be decent, now it all comes down how effectively it is executed.

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