The game against the UAE at last produced the sort of batting performance that all Pakistani fans had been waiting for with good contributions down the line from everyone except Nasir Jamshed.
Without sounding unduly harsh, one has to say that if there was a cricketing consideration that persuaded the tour selectors to go with Nasir in this game after his dismal performance in the two previous games, then one would very much like to hear it.
If Sarfraz was to be brought in and tried in the opening slot, this was the ideal game to do it in. As things stand, it is now probably too late to make a change for the very important game against South Africa on Saturday, with the result that we may have to go with Nasir Jamshed in that crucial match as well.
It is not just the way he is batting which inspires no confidence it all; his fielding is even more disconcerting. If Sarfraz were to play and keep wickets, Umar Akmal could have been freed as a fielder and he is probably the best fielder in the Pakistan side. If it were up to me, I would still go with Sarfraz for the South Africa game for there is not much scope for him to do worse as an opener.
I do not know if the team management were aware of the fact that if they had kept the UAE to 195 or below, our run rate would been better than that of the West Indies and put us in third position in the group. Certainly, there seemed to be no visible effort to keep the UAE to 195. Not that it would matter too much at this stage. I do not expect our run rate to improve after the South Africa game and Ireland’s run rate should go southwards as well after their game against India.
One way or another, it seems as if it is going to be our game against Ireland that will decide a quarter-final place for either side. That is unless we beat South Africa and I would be less than honest if I said I expect that to happen.
The injury to Irfan suffered during the UAE game does not do our very slim chances any favours and one sincerely hopes he recovers before Saturday… If we are to have any hope, Irfan’s bowling at the top of the innings will be a factor of crucial importance.