Pakistan cricket team has lost the One Day International Series against England just a few weeks ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Looking at Pakistan’s performance from a broader perspective, they lacked to perform well in almost every aspect of the game starting from bowling to fielding to batting to captaincy. The performance is alarming specially when the biggest tournament of the game is just around the corner.
Though the Pakistan team crossed psychological barrier of 300 runs thrice in the series but it was not enough specially in those batting conditions to earn a victory. One of the key concerns that was highlighted in the series was lack of hard hitters. With the immense popularity of Twenty20, the game of ODI format has changed completely. Now ODIs have become very fast and it has become necessary for teams to pick hard-hitters in their squad. Apart from Asif Ali, Pakistan doesn’t seem to have any specialized hard hitter. Obviously a team cannot rely on single player to score big boundaries. There should be two to three hard hitters in the batting line-up. Asif Ali’s presence definitely boosted Pakistan’s batting performance as he scored couple of half centuries in four innings against England with a strike rate of 131.48. Asif displayed a glimpse of his talent in the series despite the fact that his daughter was fighting stage four cancer in the United States.
In all three games where Pakistan crossed 300 runs, it was the performance of top order batsmen who provided a solid platform and scored consistently through out the series. The opening batsmen played a vital role in setting up a concrete foundation. However, the middle order could not live up to the expectations and there was barely any notable innings during the series. One player who could have made an impact with the bat but failed to do so is Imad Wasim. He has been having a terrible batting form for some time now but he can be handy if he gets back into form.
Bowling has always been Pakistan’s strength in every format of the game. However bowling on pitches suitable for batsmen has always been a challenge. Pakistan’s bowling works well when there is no pressure on the bowlers. The moment batting side starts charging the bowlers, they just seem to cut lose from their game plan. Throughout the series, Pakistani bowlers failed to deliver in the death overs. They just couldn’t stop the English batsmen from charging them. Their game plan didn’t work in the end overs and they seemed to have no plan B or C. On the other hand, England stayed consistent with their bowling specially during the final overs of the game. They had a game plan and they executed it pretty well. They bowled away from the batsmen and barely gave them any chance to hit the ball on regular intervals. They clearly had a plan and they strictly followed it.
When you are bowling in the death overs, you have to keep control over your nerves and bowl according to the plan. Should Pakistani bowlers bowled on-target yorkers and full-length deliveries in the final overs, results of the series would have been different. If this strategy was not working, they should have tried something else, like bowling away from batsmen just like England successfully did. A good bowler always changes strategy if he is being charged. You cannot bowl same deliveries if you are being hit boundaries, you must adapt according to the situation.
Needless to say but Pakistan’s fielding has been sloppy throughout the series. Missing catches and misfield have unfortunately become a norm. Pakistan’s fielding has improved in the recent years but there has been no consistency in this domain of the game.
A world class side has to stay on top in each department of the game so that if there is any lag in one part of the game, the other can compensate. This is how world class sides always stay in the game. Unfortunately, it has been observed in recent series that during pressure situations, the team just lose concentration and there seems to be no game plan to cope up with the situation.
Pakistan cricket team has been in England for some time now so they have very well adjusted to the new environment. Secondly, Pakistan’s batting lineup is much stronger than ever before and they are scoring big numbers consistently. All they need now is to finish the game while keeping control over their nerves and sticking to a game plan. Pakistan will be playing couple of warm-up matches just ahead of their ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 campaign. If they improve on the execution of their game plan, they have bright chances of lifting the World Cup.