Pakistan began their Twenty20 International series in Dubai as the world’s second best-ranked team in the shortest format of the game. But against England’s young and gutsy 20-over side – ranked below Pakistan on the ICC computer – they didn’t have much of a promising start.
With a brittle batting and a bowling attack that has lost some of its teeth, Pakistan needed some individual heroics to tame the aggressive English unit after losing the preceding four-match OneDay International series 3-1. That, however, did not happen.
On Friday and Saturday nights, in front of strong and boisterous ‘home’ crowds, Pakistan fell short in all departments of the game allowing England to win the Twenty20 series with back-to-back wins. Such results don’t augur well for Pakistan considering that the ICC World Twenty20 championship 2016 is just a few months away.
Pakistan failed to make the semi-finals of the hugely-popular tournament for the first time last year and if they don’t pull up their socks and start doing better there are fears that the 2009 champions might once again go through the ignominy of an early exit.
Pakistan has many weak links in their line-up starting with skipper Shahid Afridi. The ageing all-rounder did show glimpses of his big-hitting prowess in Friday night’s second T20 International but failed to finish off the job. His showing with both the bat and the ball in recent times has not been up to the mark and that is certainly affecting the Pakistan side.
In a splintered dressing room like Pakistan’s a captain has to lead from the front to get the best from his troops. This is not happening. The problem with Pakistan is that they don’t have many captaincy choices. Also it might be a bit too late in the game to change horses in midstream. Afridi will have to somehow regain his touch as an all-rounder so that he can lead by example before and during the World T20 championship to be held in India during March-April.
The national team also needs to show some spine in its top and middle-order batting. A target of 160 odd runs is not considered to be that hard in the 20-over format but our batsmen see it as a Herculean task. Our pinch-hitters will have to show more aggression and learn to play as few dot balls as possible. The series defeat against England in the UAE has exposed several chinks in Pakistan’s armour and it is now up to our cricket think-tank to take timely measures to curb them in the lead-up to what is our team’s most important assignment in 2016.