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Pakistan face a desperate, nerve-tingling struggle to beat Netherlands, a team of part-time cricketers, and progress in this World Cup. But victory will not be enough unless it is by a sufficient margin to ensure that Pakistan’s net run-rate is superior to Netherlands.
A washout—and rain is threatened at Lord’s—will mean that Pakistan will be eliminated.
Pakistan might point to the Dutch team’s freak victory against England as a stroke of misfortune but, ultimately, they only have themselves to blame. Pakistan’s preparations have looked lazy and their match performances have lacked sharpness.
Off the field, the Pakistan camp has been prone to public gaffes. First, Intikhab Alam raised eyebrows when he stated he was “unconcerned” about defeat to India.
This was followed by Younis Khan’s silly claim after the England match that he only thought of World Cup Twenty20 cricket as “fun” even if it was international cricket.
Such errors of judgement are no surprise as Pakistan have once again turned up for a major tour without a media manager. The modern media world is complex and sophisticated, and to leave this important area in the hands of a coach and a team manager who are both past retirement age is sheer folly.
In Younis’ defence he was visibly shaken by defeat, and in between his smiles and his easy-going attitude, he was clearly disappointed by the performance of his senior colleagues, namely Shahid Afridi, Salman Butt, and Kamran Akmal.
He has promised that there will be changes for today’s match and that the senior players will be asked to take greater responsibility, which includes a move up the batting order.
Indeed, one of the perplexing decisions at The Oval was the sight of Misbah-ul Haq, Pakistan’s Twenty20 miracle worker, striding to the crease once the game was all but lost. Pakistan must have experience at the top of the order.
On the bowling front, Shahid Afridi’s consistency has vanished, a handicap to Pakistan in the middle overs. In addition, Yasir Arafat looks a poor choice to open the bowling, often pitching too full and allowing the batsman to clear the infield.
Pakistan’s traditional strength has been its bowling, a necessity because of batting and fielding frailties, but the current bowling line-up has struggled to exert any control over any opposition.
Netherlands are inexperienced but confident enough to take on the bigger teams, as they showed against England. Pakistan should, however, have more than enough firepower to defeat them by the required margin to ensure qualification.
Unfortunately, Pakistan’s performances up to now have made their supporters concerned about the team’s attitude, and a tournament that could have been fun has begun miserably.
The question now is whether or not the Pakistan captain and management can motivate the players to qualify for the easier half of the Super Eights draw?
Certainly, Pakistan can do it. But the disorganisation and disruption in Pakistan cricket over the last few years is now beginning to take a severe toll.
Whatever the result today, a drastic overhaul is required. If Pakistan cricket were run properly, would the Twenty20 team be without Imran Nazir, Abdul Razzaq, and even possibly Shoaib Akhtar, warts and all? The Badshahs and Badmashes have been sorely missed.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets hereFeeds: Kamran Abbasi
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi