The Manchester debacle

Nobody appears interested in asking the question: Will Pakistan make a 1992-style comeback in the ongoing ICC World Cup? It seems that the entire Pakistan has lost interest in the cricket gala after the Manchester defeat. Not much to our surprise, Green Shirts played poorly, allowing their rivals to do better in every department – planning, fielding, bowling, batting and running between the wickets. At no point did it look like a match between two competitive teams. The Blue Shirts made it a one-sided affair. On a few occasions, rain threatened to deny the victory to the Indian team. The only time something went Pakistan’s way was when Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss. However, it later looked like this was a good toss to lose. The skipper put Indians into bat. From the word ‘play’ it looked like a one-sided match. Pakistani bowlers were mercilessly beaten by openers Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul, who built a 136-run partnership. With Rohit’s 140 off 113 balls, the platform was set for skipper Virat Kohli’s knock of 77 runs. Once India had set Pakistan a 337-run target, a virtual miracle was needed for Pakistan to prevail. After Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman’s 104 runs stand came to an end, the middle order showed no resilience. In their chase, the Green Shirts collapsed way short of the revised target of 302, losing the battle by 89 runs.

Now that the Manchester match is over, Pakistan have other challenges to overcome. There have been reports of violation of discipline, dressing room fights and grouping in the team. Much to the dismay of cricket fans, the Pakistan Cricket Board is mum on these issues. The management should clear the air and restore the team’s focus on the remaining four matches. A spirited, focused and disciplined team can make a comeback in the World Cup. The recent debacle has many lessons for the team management and the cricket board. In the absence of domestic cricket and given the international isolation the only place to go looking for talent is the Pakistan Super League. What can one then expect from the team? *

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