“Turn the demons into heart, your shadows into a friend”. The purpose of quoting this idiom is to encourage the Pakistani bowlers to remain brave, for people learn from their defeats. Every mistake has lessons in it. If analysed and applied properly, faults and problems can, not only be converted into success, but enriched also to shine again and fill themselves to fight with a new heart.\ Glory awaits those remain confident, and determined, undaunted by failures of lack of attention.
Pakistan bowling attack was reputed for its penetration, but while first of the five ODI series against England, was washed off, Pakistan bowlers, Junaid Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, and spinner Emad Wasim, all by himself, without support of another partner, seemed lost in the wilderness, totally clueless, and devoid of wicket taking magic, which had driven them to heights more often. Both these matches bore new texts. Batting has been brittle, openers were a permanent problem, and middle order unstable.
But in the last two one-day internationals, Fakhr Zaman, Imamul Haq, Babar Azam, Asif Ali and skipper Sarfaraz Nawaz, did wonders, putting up a gallant chase in the 2nnd fixture, almost coming close to victory, for a massive England score of 373/3 was like climbing the Himalayas, but to great delight of the fans, tourists displayed spirit and determination with century from Fakhr Zaman, and fifties from Babar Azam, and Asif Ali, plus fighting 41 from Sarfaraz, unnerved powerful rivals, and if only Liam Piunkett had not tried to scratch the ball, Faheem Ashraf, and even Fakhr Zaman doubtful snick to wicket keeper, would have turned table on England.
No point moaning now, umpires mistakes, lack of integrity and sporstsman spirit, are all part of the game and need to be accepted as such. If Jos Buttler can feel proud of 50-ball hundred at Southampton, Fakhr Zaman’s reply was no less spirited. But bowling was shredded to pieces and fielding were like insult to injury. Nevetheless Pakistan fought gallantly and deserved accolades. In the following fixture at Bristol too Pak batsmen showed grit, and despite Fakhr Zaman and Babar Azam quite early, Imamul Haq’s 151 with 11 fours, Haris Sohail 41, and Asif Ali second success half century, plus another fighting innings from Pakistan skipper, helped the side cross 350 marks. This was something remarkable, because in previous encounters against Australia, NewZeland, and South Africa, such aggregates had remained elusive. Batting feats like these are a happy augury for the coming World Cup, starting from May 30.
But Amir’s absence due mainly to health problems, is proving costly, True Amir’s recent record is hapless—just 5 wickets in too many outings, but he does contain the batsman with his speed, line and length, and others benefit from the pressure he applies on rival batsman. Good news is that Shadab Khan is likely to join the team later in the month, and if fully fit, could be a real asset. His pairing with Emad Wasim, can strengthen spin department. But Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi,and Faheem Ashraf should check tendency to bow short, and get punished, Dropping of Jason Ray by Shaheen Afridi, and poor fielding standards, had a heavy toll on Pakistan. But credit can not be denied from Bairstow for his remarkable and dazzling century, with too many sixes and fours. Jason Ray, Root, and Morgan too, even Moeen Ali for his 41, were lavish in their strokeplay.
England overhauled the Pakistani 358 for 9 with 5.1 overs to spare, recording 6-wicket victory and going up 2-0 in the series. Dropped catch and crucial fielding lapses, need to be attended in the remaining two ODIs against England. World Cup will be a daunting task, and perhaps a dream if weaknesses are not attended to in time