Not playing enough international cricket at home and being kept out of the IPL has set back Pakistan, feels former skipper Shoaib Malik. Having been part of the setup for over a decade, Malik feels it’s high time the youngsters caught up on the technical part of the game. “We are a little bit behind if you talk about the shorter version. I would say a little bit in ODIs as well,” he said here on Sunday.
“Our record in the recent past in the shorter version shows we have not delivered. We are learning. We have a lot of youngsters. Since we don’t play international cricket, we are not up to the mark. Credit to the whole nation for the way they’re coping with this. But we need to improve our skills in batting, and need to improve our technique. Once that’s done, we hope to be back on track soon.”
It didn’t take Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi long to bring up the theory about India-Pakistan matches --- ‘our bowling against their batting’. “I think that has been the case for the last 60 years,” said Afridi. Still, this has possibly been the leanest patch endured by Pakistan batsmen collectively. Having sunk to the low of being dismissed for 83 against India in the Asia Cup last month, the onus is on the batsmen to give their bowlers a sizeable total to defend.
The top order has been shuffled repeatedly and talented batsmen like Umar Akmal have often given their wickets away in crucial situations. It all boils down to having the experience of playing under pressure, and Malik feels the Pakistan Super League would provide that in some time.
“If you look at AB de Villers, Rohit, Kohli, Raina or a lot of cricketers, they have improved a lot since they started playing in the IPL. PSL will do the same thing. Yes, we are behind. But the fact is we have a lot of youngsters. It’s a great opportunity for us to do well and bring Pakistan to the level where the rest of the world is,” said Malik.
Although he has not been able to play in the IPL, Pakistan wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed idolises India skipper MS Dhoni. “The way he keeps wicket, I try to learn a lot from him. He’s so good. I hope I will be able to finish matches like him,” he said.
For the time being, Afridi reckons it’s up to the seniors to shoulder the responsibility. “In a big event like this, it will be the senior players who take the pressure --- be it me, Shoaib Malik or Mohammed Hafeez,” he said.
Their inconsistent batting notwithstanding, Pakistan are happy the expectations are low. “Let’s talk about the 1992 World Cup; we won where there were less expectations. Same thing happened in 2007 (WT20). We lost to India, but then we won in 2009. The same thing is going on in this World Cup. Good that we’re the underdogs,” said Malik.