DUBAI: Senior Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik rued team’s lack of confidence and luck but promised the team will come back with new plans and better results in their crunch must-win game against Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Pakistan find itself in a do-or-die situation in the last super four stage, needing a win to qualify for the final to be played in Dubai on Friday.
Malik admitted the team was lacking confidence and told that they know there are areas which need improvement.
“To be honest, after a defeat against any team, I think the best thing is to sit down and talk about it and come out with different plan. If the plans are not working then we must sit down and devise some other plan. We have lost to India in two games, there are areas where we have to improve,” said Malik.
Pakistan opened the campaign with an easy win against Hong Kong, but lost two matches to India while their win against Afghanistan only came in the last over.
“We have discussed and communicated them [plans], and you will see improvement,” he said. “We are going through some tough times. This is not the end of the world. There will be changes, not team wise I am saying it because its not my domain, but in terms of changing plans for the next game which is a must win for us,” he added.
Malik is the man in form, scoring 43 against India, 57 not out against Afghanistan and played a brilliant inning of 77 runs under pressure in the second India game. He believed the new players are learning.
“No doubt there is pressure when you play against top teams. If someone says that there is no pressure he would be lying. If you compare players [of the two teams] they have more experience, have played more matches,” he stated.
He believes Pakistan side have got young skilled players, but they need some time to settle in. He quoted example of India’s cricketing system and how they develop players.
“I would say that we have lack of experience not in term of skill. When you have a building process you need time, its not a time to panic to change players, if you change a lot of players new comers will also need some time. We have to see at India’s system, how they develop their players. They are the best side in the world.
Malik talked about giving players confidence, young cricketers have got the backing of coach, captain, selection committee and the PCB chairman.
“You have to give confidence to the players, that management has given, the captain has given, selection committee has given. PCB chairman to the dressing room came after the match and he also gave confidence. He said that you must give it the best shot, such things happen in the game, they are common,” he said.
The seasoned all-rounder thinks young players in the side have not been able to read the playing conditions properly and it has cost the side.
“Our batting line up needs stability, these are not pitches where you look for 300 350. If you stay at the pitch, don’t lose wickets then later in the innings you get a chance to score runs. We must play according to the situation. There is lack of experience, the experience players assess the conditions. So I think that this thing is missing but players are talented they have given performances so I am sure they will come back.”
Malik said Pakistan’s bowling has variety, but faced real challenge from Indian superstars Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
“Look, everyone is discussing Pakistan bowling but not saying how Shikhar [Dhawan] and Rohit [Sharma] played, they are world class players. We dropped some catches which are part of the game, but it happens when you are in form then you get that luck. Look, there is no player who has performed every day,” he told.
He mentioned Indian speedsters Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar as examples as they are bowling brilliantly in the tournament.
“We need to learn how Bumrah and Bhuvi are bowling, its not like that someone with 200 matches cannot learn from those who have played five ten matches, no they can learn from anyone.”
Malik said legendary Pakistan paceman Wasim Akram’s praise meant a lot to him.
“My goal is that whoever is bowling at me, what my team needs. When you make things difficult then its gets tough. I just play accordingly and keep things simple when you have played so much cricket then you have that confidence. Our other players lack that experience but the management is helping.”
Malik agreed with head coach Mickey Arthur that the team is lacking in confidence.
“That has been happening, senior players do this. If you have senior players their duty is not only to perform but to also make juniors helpful, make them confident. Even when we win there is a duty to help the juniors, if its happening then the team is going in the right direction.”
Malik refused to accept Pakistan’s bowling lacking variety and does not have many spinners.
“I don’t think so, if you ask any legend or commentator they will still say that we have good bowling. We have lost matches to a world class team that doesn’t mean that we don’t have variety, its just the execution of the bowlers. In practice we see where are the problems.
Winning and losing is a part of the game, however the most important thing is to take the team in the right direction.
“We have so many youngsters, the more they play the more they learn. That’s the thing we have to improve, our cricket is going in the right direction, but winning or losing happens in cricket
Malik also backed Mohammad Amir to stage a comeback after failing to get any wicket in the last six games.
“I would say, my opinion, lacking confidence. He is being backed by everyone. He is a world class bowler and has done well for the team in the past. Everyone is backing him, so I am sure that he will come back
He admitted the game against Bangladesh is important. Pakistan have put their defeat against India behind and looking to put on a good show against Bangladesh.
“Every game is crucial so that will also be important. Now its going to a knock out thing so when you lose to some team and have not done well it brings a lot of negativity in the dressing room so we have quite a few meeting to put the defeats behind against India and what’s coming up, what needs to be done so will give our best,” he said.
Malik denied the labels of favourites or underdogs and told that the performance on that day matters.
“Being a cricketer I don’t believe in underdogs and favourites. On that particular day you play well you win. If two or three of your bowlers do well, batsmen do well. Whoever is in good form has the duty to perform and if that happens you do well. After losing the first game to India that was the best time to come back was the second game we tried hard but that did not happen.
“If we perform well then we sit back and that is the culture in our country. That is what the management is trying to help, to change that. Its more of players responsibility what goal the management has given to you, you cant promise that you will score a hundred or get five wickets, you set your goal and try.”