Though it was a World Cup year, Pakistan couldn’t manage to get off the mark convincingly in white-ball cricket. Inconsistent Pakistan’s squad didn’t give many opportunities to the fans to cheer while a few during the mega event in England somehow left memorable moments for cricket enthusiasts in the country.
Starting off with ODI series defeat against South Africa at their backyard to T20I home series whitewash against Sri Lanka, cricket fans witnessed ups and downs throughout.
One Day Internationals
Pakistan’s record in ODIs wasn’t quite impressive as they managed to win just nine out of 25 contests they played this year. They faced defeat in 15 while a match remained resultless.
The story started with a defeat in South Africa where the green shirts lost five-match ODI series, 3-2. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the series in South Africa turned out to be a nightmare for the national team as they lost confidence in their skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed, who was banned by the ICC in the last two ODIs for passing racial comments to Andile Phehlukwayo during the third ODI.
The series followed by a couple of changes as experienced all-rounder Shoaib Malik led the men in green against Australia in a five-match ODI series in absence of regular captain Sarfaraz. The team management had decided to rest their main players including Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan, and Shaheen Shah Afridi.
The decision backfired on the PCB as Malik and co suffered a humiliating 5-0 ODI series defeat. Immense criticism was due on the team as critics highly demanded to exclude the entire team management.
World Cup 2019
Immediately after Australia series, the think tank put heads together to decide players for World Cup. The 15-member preliminary squad was sent to England but nothing worked well for Pakistan as they lost the five-match series 4-0 at the hands of the home side.
Eventually, Abid Ali, the debutant century-maker, and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf were dropped from the side for the mega event with Mohammad Amir and Asif Ali taking their place.
Pakistan’s World Cup campaign started with major losses. A big defeat against the West Indies which led them to suffer in the end due to run-rate. The 41-runs loss to Australia, another defeat against India in the World Cup history.
As usual, unpredictable Pakistan showed the element of hope for cricket fans in the country by winning four back-to-back contests against England, South Africa, New Zealand and Bangladesh. However, it was too late to qualify for the final four due to lower run-rate than New Zealand, the finalist.
Pakistan ended their ODI run with a 2-0 series win against Sri Lanka. The series marked ODI cricket’s return in the country after four years. After the first one-dayer got washed out in Karachi, Pakistan made the most of home conditions and outclassed visitors in the next two contests.
Babar Azam, stand-out batter in the year
Babar Azam, number three batsman according to ICC ODI rankings, scored the highest 1092 runs in the year. He played 25 ODIs and averaged 60.7 and had a handsome strike-rate of 92.3. He became the fastest Pakistani batsman to score 1,000 ODI runs in a calendar year.
Moreover, he also broke Javed Minadad’s (476 runs) record of most runs in a single world-cup edition. The 25-year-old made 474 runs in eight innings during Pakistan’s campaign in the mega event record.
Shaheen Shah Afridi led from the front
Young Shaheen Shah Afridi caught limelight within no time as he became the frontline bowler for Pakistan in all three formats of the game. He claimed 27 wickets in the last 12 months, highest by any Pakistani bowler. He also inspired cricket experts with 16 wickets bag in the World Cup including 6-35, best ever bowling figure by any Pakistani bowler in World Cup, against Bangladesh.
Pakistan came into the T20I series against South Africa with 11 consecutive series win but resting regular captain Sarfraz costed green shirts highly. The number one ranked team in shorter format lost three-match T20I series 2-1 against South Africa under the leadership of stand-in captain Malik.
Pakistan, later, lost one-off T20I against England, just before the World Cup, this time under Sarfaraz. In November, they lost to Australia 2-0 in the three-match series but having greater ranking points, Green shirts remained number one
In September, when Sri Lanka toured Pakistan, they gave a shock to the PCB’s new team management under the leadership of head coach-cum-chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq. They lost the T20I series 3-0. Disappointing results finally ended Sarfaraz’s tenure as captain of the national team. Number one T20 batsman Babar Azam was appointed as the new T20 captain.