The brief Zimbabwe tour came to an end a couple of days ago, with Pakistan emerging as thevictors. It wasn’t a clean cut victory since Pakistan won four out five matches and the one match we lost was under extremely controversial circumstances. Having said that, Pakistan has managed to perform commendably against Zimbabwe this year. This particular tour highlighted five aspects about our cricket team.
Imad Wasim – The most wanted in the team
In the first T20 and in the first ODI during the Zimbabwe tour, he showed us his skills with the bat, whereas throughout the series, he showed his skills with the ball. He will soon become an irreplaceable asset in the shorter format of the game.
Muhammad Hafeez – Struggling under pressure?
However, things have taken a turn now, and his role is being filled by Imad and to some extent by Shoaib Malik. His batting is coming under scrutiny due to the likes of Haris Sohail and Sohaib Maqsood, who are eagerly waiting in the wings to get a chance to show off their performances. For him to stay on the team, his performance graph needs to improve vastly. The upcoming series against England in the UAE will prove to be a real test of his batting quality and ability.
Shoaib Malik – The new Mr dependable
It’s been more than a happy and successful comeback for the 33-year-old veteran who seems hungrier, calmer, more focused, and eager to give his best in terms of performance. However, his performance will be keenly scrutinised in the upcoming series against England, where Captain Azhar Ali and Coach Waqar Younis will rightfully be pinning their hopes on him for standing up to the challenges and playing a pivotal role in helping Pakistan cruise towards victory.
Imad, Bilal Asif, Anwar Ali, and Aamer Yameen – Our future seems bright thanks to them
Not long ago, our nation was quite wary about our team’s future in the T20 format, as Pakistan was short of all-rounder’s, especially after the ban on Hafeez’s bowling action, which left the Pakistani team with no adequate all-rounder at that particular time.
Mohammad Rizwan’s welcome addition and Asad Shafiq’s lost cause in the ODIs
His innings in the first ODI match of the series, when Pakistan was five down for some 120 odd runs, was an absolute master class to watch, and is another example of why he is what Pakistan wants and needs instead of Umar Akmal or Maqsood. His energy on the field is above par, and during this short span of time, he is being called the Jhonty Rhodes of Pakistan.
On the other hand, we have Asad Shafiq, who fails to deliver nearly every time he is given a chance As many things as they may be to admire in him at Test level, his performance in the ODI format is below par. Till now, he has played 58 ODIs over the past five years, in which he has scored 1318 runs at a below par average of 25.34 and with nine 50s to his credit.
He was given a chance yet again to perform in two out of three ODIs, even though he did manage a decent 38 in the last ODI, unfortunately he crumbled amidst a tense situation in the second ODI, chasing a wide ball outside the off stump. His continued failure raises a question as to when our selectors will realise Shafiq is not suitable for this format.
Keeping in mind our young and skilled squad, as well as Pakistan’s recent performances against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, it’s safe to say we have a more than fair chance at winning the series against England.
The article originally appeared on The Express Tribune Blogs.