Afridi blunders cost us match against India

Salahuddin Haider

SOME one has to take responsibility for the pathetic performance against the keenly-awaited T-20 World Cup tie against India. Blunders were committed in team selection, and then unimaginative captaincy caused massive disappointment to cricket-crazy Pakistani nation. Who was responsible for this. PCB chairman, and governing body chief Najam Sethi send hand-picked journalists to every cricket event, wasting colossal amount of exchequer money to sing hymn of praises for them.
NAB should now probe against their misdeeds. Officials of the PCB, including chairman Sheharyar Khan, Najam Sethi, Mohammad Akram, and many of sycophants, benefitting from fat salaries, perks and privileges. The PCB is like a Gregorian Ward of a hospital, where old and insane people can hardly justify their existence, Wholesale changes are now required in the PCB .
That obviously means sacking of the PCB chairman, Najam Sethi, and Board officials, interested in paid holidays at the time of different tournaments in different parts of the world. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must now take serious notice of the humiliation being repeatedly faced by the Pakistani nation because of such poor planners.
A section of the Media too is responsible for building hypes in the name of “takra” .Little does it relaise that it raises hopes among people and when results are reverse, a madness is witnessed in the country, where people break their TV sets, and fighting erupts on the streets. PEMRA should take a serious notice of this and bank such “takra” business. Games should be taken as games.
The team that play better will win. Portraying it is a war between two countries, is criminal and needed urgent punitive action. It was obvious even to the ordinary that heavy showers just two hours before the India-Pakistan match at Kolkata’s Eden Garden, could easily seep through the covers, and would affect the pitch also. Despite that an experienced cricketer like Shaun Pollock described it as a perfect batting strip.
His remarks were shocking. Kolkata, like Sri Lanka has one of the finest arrangements to ward off the after –affects of rain. The entire ground and playing square are covered. Despite that soil has the tendency to seep the water underneath, and affect the ground. The wicket because of the rain, had softened and was bound to play slow or dicy. This was evident after Pakistan lost the toss and was forced to bat first.
The lad from Hyderabad, Sharjeel Khan, was launched on a nerve-wrecking tournament far too early. He is weak on spin, and play mostly towards the on-side, knows little about off-side strokes. He did square cut to fence once, but that did reflect his control on technique.
Knowing his weakness, Mahinder Singh Dhoni, after the first bowler from Ashis Nehra, injected off-spinner Ashwin and Sharjeel began to grope in the dark.
Ashwin, Jadeja and even Suresh Raina turned the bowler menacingly, to the utter horror of the Pakistani batsmen. As captain, Afridi not only misread the wicket, packed his playing eleven with four seamers, but also was guilty of submitting to the umpire list of players minus a major spinner.
The wicket was soft and absolute turner. Ignoring Emad Waseem, and Nawaz on a turner, and instead opting for four seams, had its toll—too costly to forget easily. Second blunder he committed was to promote himself in the batting order as one down batsman.
Hafeez has been in form—scoring 70 in the warm-up match against Sri Lanka, and then 64 lovely runs against the tournament opener against Bangla Desh. Hafeez is a great handler of the spin bowling. He was kept till the fate became too clear to avoid. If by fluke, Afridi had hit 49 off 19 deliveries against Bangla Desh, he should remember that his batting has always been suspect, and his bowling too now is spineless. Going into a crucial match without a major spinner was a folly that no captain would commit.
On a slow and double-pace wicket, taking spin from the start, seamers were bound to be ineffective. Why then were they relied upon. Faster deliveries would strike the bat early, and it would be easier for the batting side to play strokes, steal singles, and even loft the ball high on bouncers, which our bowlers specially Wahab Riaz is prone to do.
That Mohammad Amir, and even Sami broke through the defence of top order, the Pakistan total of 118 was too small to check players like Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh, and then Dhoni who made to the target without much difficulty.
Had Pakistan played Emad and Nawaz, Indians may well have struggled too, like the Pakistani did. That raises the obvious question as to what was the role of coach Waqar Yunus. Reports from Dhaka in Asia Cup and now from the World T-20 tournament in India, has been indeed discouraging. The coach hardly pays attention to correcting mistakes of players at the nets.
Time has now to send the Board packing, and for Afridi and Waqar Yunus, plus the selectors to say good bye. Sheharyar Khan treated the Board as his personal property when he said that he was committed to keep Afridi captain of the Pakistan team will T-20 World Cup. Disgraceful statement from him. He should go now, and so should Najam Sethi. Pakistan itself was responsible for the humiliation in Kolkata.

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