Pakistan must be going into the Test series against Bangladesh with the greatest of trepidation. They have just concluded perhaps their most humiliating ODI series ever followed by a thrashing in the sole T20 match as well, the format that is supposedly Pakistan’s forte. Given that before the ODIs they also lost the one warm-up game of the tour, they have the unenviable record of having lost whenever they stepped out on to cricket field on this tour.
The barrage of criticism against the senior managers of the Pakistan Cricket Board is less than fair, for they are in no way responsible for this debacle – and debacle it is. But the selectors, I feel, have a lot to answer for. With Misbah, Younis and Shahid Afridi already leaving the ODI scene, the ‘sacking’ of Ahmad Shahzad and Umar Akmal for reasons of attitude showed an arrogance that has come back to hit them in the face. In effect, that meant that the entire ODI batting line-up that played in the World Cup was being discarded.
I feel that such a major revamp could only have been taken on the basis of a huge underestimation of the Bangladeshi side which performed so well in the World Cup. In any case, if Shahzad and Akmal were excluded from the ODI squad for disciplinary reasons, it is not understood how Shahzad was then included in the T20 squad, for there cannot possibly be two different sets of disciplinary norms governing the two formats of the game.
One hopes that Pakistan will do better in the two Tests with the return of Younis and Misbah. But the top order is very inexperienced and I honestly do not think that Mohammad Hafeez has done even nearly enough to justify his inclusion. Nor does Saeed Ajmal look anywhere near his best and it is difficult to escape the impression that he has been selected only on name. For that matter Junaid Khan is also much below par.
In fact, I think it is time that the authorities should be looking seriously at the fitness of our players, especially the fast bowlers, for from the lot who played in the World Cup only one, Wahab Riaz, is in the Test squad. That throws continuity out of the window and it is simply not possible for any side to have more than half a dozen bowlers of any variety all of the same standard.