Blog by: Kshitij
A team struggling with innumerable controversies, a board struggling with its finances, a squad struggling with consistent inconsistency, a place struggling to find cricketing visitors, a country struggling with political instability – Pakistan has far too many problems than all the other cricketing nations clubbed together.
From a cricketing point of view, the Pakistan Cricket Board has suffered huge losses in the recent past and has been unable to come out with a long-term solution to any of the aforementioned struggles. The team, once known for its insanely fast bowlers who could run over any given batting line up and its perfect combination of technically sound batters and swashbuckling aggressors, now seems to have lost its sheen (much like its home pitches).
Yes, Hafeez’s boys can never be written off, as they possess the ability to spring up surprising performances every now and then, but they’re no more looked at as a threat at the international level by the current top teams and Pakistan’s performance at the Test level, in the recent past, has been most disheartening. They’ve been struggling with their opening combination, they keep shuffling their wicket-keepers around and their fielding standards are well below par.
Nevertheless, this dark cloud that has engulfed Pakistan cricket has a silver lining in the form of their Test skipper – Misbah-ul-Haq. He is the Shivnarine Chanderpaul of Pakistani cricket. I couldn’t think of any better adjective to describe what this man is to his team. In times of crisis, the 37-year-old invariably puts his hand up and on most occasions, saves the team from disgraceful defeats.
The man for all seasons, Misbah uses his experience to grind it out in the middle, even when nobody offers him support at the other end. Equipped with a solid technique against spin, swing and seam, a sense of calm, the ability to withstand extreme pressure and the uncanny skill of pulling his side out of trouble even on the toughest of wickets, Misbah is literally irreplaceable in the current Pakistani line-up.
Strictly from a batting point of view, the world wondered what Australia would do without Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Mike Hussey and many said that it was the end of India’s batting prowess when the likes of Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid retired from international cricket in quick succession. However, these teams have proved the critics wrong (to some extent) by finding some answers, at least for the time-being.
Pakistan, too, have produced some fine talent in the form of Mohammed Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed and Younis Khan has proved his worth on several occasions but what worries me the most is that of the current lot. There’s not a single Pakistani batsman who seems to have the capability to do what Misbah does for the side right now. And yes, he is in terrific form right now but let’s be practical, he’s 37 years old. His already prolonged career won’t last more than a couple of more years.
The aggressive-yet-inconsistent Kamran Akmal, the super-talented Umar Akmal, the technically sound Azhar Ali, the in-and-out man Shoaib Malik and the likes of Umar Amin and Adnan Akmal have promised a lot, but have failed to deliver on most occasions resulting in a team that’s filled with inconsistent cricketers.
And with Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq’s careers nearing an inevitable end, Pakistan would be scouting for new talent. Let’s hope one (or more) of the young guns step up to the task and takes Misbah’s legacy forward. Or else, Pakistani cricket will soon be staring at the darkest of times in terms of their batting.