Poleaxed by system, Pak rely on fate
The main reason a foreign coach was hired for Pakistan was to help them strategise better. The team had been short on planning even though there was a wealth of talent.
The coach who was hired had become a legend for his laptop-intensive functioning, and there was a lot of optimism in Pakistani cricket circles.
Unfortunately, there seems to be none of the promised strategising so far, with the team lurching from series to series without an inkling as to where it is headed.
The main problem with Pakistan is that they have never had a good opening pair —at least 20 have been tried in as many months. And they have ended up in the World Cup with a completely new pair.
Imran Nazir, languishing in the mediocrity that is Pakistan domestic cricket for six years, is now the opener. He failed at the top level because he lacked the technique to cope with the new ball. To now suddenly throw him onto the big stage is unfair to both the team and player.
Then, the team resisted playing Younis Khan at No. 3 for very long, though it was patently obvious he possessed both temperament and technique for that position. The county cricket mindset prompted the think-tank to go defensive and play bits-and-pieces players rather than specialists.
Fortunately, he is now playing at that position, but I still feel the batting line-up is not what it should be. What I'm most worried about is where Inzamam bats, much lower than the No. 4 he is best suited for. He needs to lead from the front, and that is not possible when he is batting down the order.
The bowling, too, is not as good as it could be. The Asif-Akhtar affair is unclear, and while I feel the PCB is doing the right thing if the players are indeed injured, the matter was very badly handled. The bowlers have injury issues, and hopefully will not break down mid-tournament. Kaneria’s return is a welcome move, though I cannot understand why he was not part of the one-day plans.
A leg-spinner is always an asset in one-day cricket because he is attacking. That the team preferred to leave out a specialist so far again proves that it has a defensive mindset. For 1992, I had planned my team for a year and was busy choosing the right combination from many months before. A good team needs planning, not just stabs in the dark.
Pakistan take on the hosts today. Hopefully they are prepared and acclimatised. The team has talent and can still do well, though if they do well, it will be in spite of the system and not because of it.