Shahid Afridi, Pakistan's stand-in captain, has said that the side cannot go to the World Cup on the back of performances that led to their 3-0 series defeat in the ODIs against Australia in the UAE. Afridi, who took over as captain for the third ODI in Abu Dhabi after Misbah-ul-Haq opted out, said the lack of partnerships had been Pakistan's weakest link in the limited-overs games against Australia.
Having lost the series after a defeat in the second ODI, Pakistan made a number of changes to their XI for the dead rubber, and although their bowlers pitched in with a disciplined effort, the batsmen failed to chase a total of 231. Pakistan needed two runs in the final over with two wickets in hand but a double-wicket maiden from Glenn Maxwell ensured Australia swept the series 3-0 and topped the ICC ODI team rankings.
"In every aspect the conditions, including the pitch, suited Pakistan more than Australia. I think that if we can't win on these pitches, our batsmen can't make runs on them, then we have to think a lot about it," Afridi said after the side's one-run defeat. "As for the World Cup, we can't go there with performances like these."
The one-run defeat was Pakistan's fifth successive ODI loss and exposed their weakness as a batting unit. In the third ODI, Pakistan's bowlers did not conceded an extra until the 45th over and reined in Australia to 231 for 9 despite a strong start from the visitors. Sohail Tanvir, who replaced Wahab Riaz in the line-up, took 3 for 40, while Afridi also chipped in with 2 for 44. The batsmen, however, stumbled from one collapse to another and Afridi stressed the absence of partnerships had been the common factor in the side's failures in the ODIs and the only T20.
"If you look overall, we have spoilt the good work of the bowlers," Afridi said. "On this pitch it looked as if they will get 280-plus. We managed to keep them down to 231 but from the Twenty20 game to the third one-dayer, our problem has been a lack of partnerships. When we build a partnership our wickets start to fall."
Afridi, who had recently been appointed Pakistan's T20 captain, had taken over the reins in the third ODI after Misbah chose to step aside. While Misbah had been appointed Pakistan captain until the World Cup, there has been a sense of uncertainty around his job. Following his decision to step aside in the ODI, PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said that it would be up to Misbah to decide on his future as captain but revealed that the board was considering other names as contingencies.
When asked about the ODI captaincy, Afridi urged the board to ensure that the player leading the team would have some certainty about the role: "I think whoever is captain - Misbah or me - we should know about it. If I am to captain in the World Cup, then I should know about it."