'Painful watching Pakistan play like this' - Shaharyar
Shaharyar Khan, the PCB chairman, has hinted at sweeping changes in Pakistan's entire management, following the team's early exit in the Asia Cup. Shaharyar has formed a special committee, which includes former T20 captains Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, to monitor Pakistan's performance and examine the selection process for the upcoming World Twenty20*. Shakil Sheikh, who heads the PCB's cricket committee, will chair the special committee, which also includes PCB chief operating officer Subhan Ahmad and former chief selector Iqbal Qasim. Shaharyar, however, insisted that Shahid Afridi will remain captain of the T20 side unless he himself pulls out.
Pakistan lost their opening match of the Asia Cup to India, beat UAE convincingly, only to bow out of the tournament after defeat at the hands of Bangladesh. More worryingly for the team, Pakistan's batting issues resurfaced in Bangladesh, with three wickets falling during the Powerplay in each game.
"It wasn't just a matter of disappointment but it was a painful experience to watch Pakistan play like that," Shaharyar said. "The performance was very poor other then few individuals' performances, but I can assure that accountability is inevitable and whoever is responsible has to answer. Changes are important in the electoral process and leadership but we have to sit and think wisely. We are not going to make anyone a scapegoat or do the witch hunt but whatever we will do, it will be done with clarity."
Afridi's role as captain came under scrutiny after Pakistan controversially dropped Wahab Riaz for Anwar Ali in the game against Bangladesh, ESPNcricinfo understands. It was also observed that Afridi was missing from training sessions and skipped meetings with the coaching staff.
"I understand there is a lot of criticism but I am not going to change anything one week before the major tournament in India," Shaharyar said. "Afridi will remain captain unless he himself pulls out of the job. He has been serving Pakistan from the last 15 years. There are problems in his captaincy which can't be mended and especially at a time when his career is about to be end.
"Also, we don't want to disregard the longest serving players of Pakistan cricket. So, I am not going to push a panic button and take any decision in haste. This is not my style. Some changes you will see will be done before we play our first matches in World T20 and other important changes will be done after the tournament."
Pakistan have already rejigged their original 15-man squad ahead of the Asia Cup and World T20 by adding Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Sami and Khalid Latif. After the Asia Cup debacle, Shaharyar hinted at another wave of change, with the new ICC regulations allowing teams to change their squads before the start of the tournament.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the selectors are considering dropping Khurram Manzoor, whose inclusion did not impress Waqar Younis, for the excluded Ahmed Shehzad. It is also understood that one of the senior members of the team management touched upon Salman Butt's name, mentioning his utility after he was the second-highest run-getter in the recently-concluded National One-Day Cup, where he finished with 536 runs at 107.20.
Manzoor's controversial selection was cited as a "judgement error" by Shaharyar. "It wasn't an unfair call but I did show my reservation. Haroon Rashid made his point that Khurram is the best they have for the opening slot as there is no alternative. I was told that he was in form and has scored enough runs for Pakistan A team but eventually he failed at the top. But I can assure you that ahead of the World T20 there will be changes in selection as we will have time to change."
* March 4, 1106 GMT. The news report was updated to include information regarding the special committee
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson