Pakistan vs Australia – They can’t win at all!

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When was the last time you heard of a Pakistan side that was selected to practice, not to win? Was it the same time when a veteran Cricketer with no future in the team was selected the Skipper? When the regular Skipper was rested along with 5 more players just to see the bench strength? When two months before the World Cup the selectors had no clue who to select and who not to select? Welcome to Pakistan Cricket, we stupidly do, what no one in their right mind would think of doing in the first place.

Had it been up to me, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik would have been part of the past, just like dinosaurs were when the world evolved back in the day. They are off-spinners who hardly take wickets, they are batsmen who hardly score centuries, they might be good fielders but even typing that about Hafeez makes me mistype a thing or two. They are both nearing their 40s and have no chance of playing after the World Cup, so why take them along when a youngster who has a better chance to take wickets, score centuries, hold onto catches and be one for the future can do it better. But hey, these two have played with Inzamam ul Haq, the current Chief Selector, and we know he takes good care of his own.

Pakistan had been blessed with good bowlers in the past but right now, fielding a team with no experience shows how serious the management is ahead of the World Cup. This was the ideal time to try Junaid Khan and Mohammad Amir in tandem but no, Junaid didn’t play in either match while Amir did in one and didn’t do anything to convince the selectors that he is still a wicket-taking bowler. This would have been the best time to test Shadab Khan the all-rounder but Pakistan preferred to send Yasir Shah in his place who has no chance to be in the World Cup Squad. This would have been the ideal time to check Mohammad Hasnain as a new-ball bowler rather than giving him the ball when the batsmen were set and the ball was old. This would have also been an ideal time to check whether Faheem Ashraf can do an Abdur Razzaq instead of slogging in the final overs, but no, if the batting order shows he is due to bat at number seven, number seven it is.

I have never been a fan of Shoaib Malik’s captaincy in any format especially after the Hong Kong Sixes match where Imran Nazir went for 48 runs in an over. He was lackluster as Captain of the Pakistan side when Sarfaraz Ahmed was suspended earlier this year, and I am sure that the Tareens would be thinking of making Shahid Afridi the skipper for Multan Sultans instead of Shoaib Malik. Yes, he won many tournaments for Sialkot but remember, it was he who deliberately lost matches in that tournament as well to help another team progress to the next round. Do you want such a player in the team let alone be the Captain of the side? It would have been better had Javed Miandad or Mohammad Yousuf been recalled for the series as a) they haven’t retired from the game yet, b) they still want to serve their country and leave with their heads held high and c) they have as many chance to represent Pakistan in the future as Shoaib Malik who was once called ‘can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t field’ by New Zealand’s Ian Smith during Pakistan’s Down Under tour in 2010.

Pakistan could achieve only one thing from the series and that is learn a thing or two from Australia. Aaron Finch was terribly out of form when he landed in the United Arab Emirates but now has two centuries from as many matches; Usman Khawaja is staking his claim in the World Cup squad with impressive batting, knowing David Warner’s return might push him down, or out. Even then he is giving his best at the top, unlike the opposition where the Chief Selector and Captain are both on the same page. They both think that this series will help unearth talent for the future but what good is talent when it is bound to fail, and not selected to succeed. The ‘person’ responsible for the defeat in World Cup 1996 (I still remember Inzamam’s shit shot at Bangalore), 1999 (don’t get me started!), 2003 (the whole world knew he would not score more than 19 runs throughout the tournament) and 2007 (we lost to Ireland under his captaincy) is back at the helm and we can only pray for a better result in 2019.

Yes, we won the 2017 Champions Trophy but only when two of his selected players were kicked out of the final XI (Ahmed Shehzad 12 runs off 22 balls and Wahab Riaz 87 runs off 8.4 overs) and Sarfaraz Ahmed gave the performance of his career. All eyes are on Sarfaraz Ahmed this time who is resting because the ‘Boys’ are having practice sessions at the cost of youngsters’ future.