ISLAMABAD - Boom Boom Afridi helped Pakistan registered a tensed three-wicket victory against Sri Lanka in the first T20 international played at the neutral venue of UAE.
It was probably one of the best knocks Afridi had played after a very long gap. Had Afridi not played that knock, the green shirts could have lost the match. But the thing the team management should seriously ponder over was that Pakistan batting once again flopped miserably which raised question over the team selection. What was the reason behind dropping last match hero Junaid Khan and replacing him with Usman Shanwari when his services had to be availed for one over? What was the purpose of having a defensive-minded player Umer Amin in the shorter format of the game, who can’t bat above the order, can’t field well and is of no use when it comes to bowl few overs? It would have been far better to have Anwar Ali in the squad, as he is a complete all rounder. Anwar can bowl well, more than handy with the bat and very agile fielder too.
Hafeez must have to explain why he decided to bowl first, when he is fully aware of the fact thay Pakistan team is never known for chasing even smaller targets? Bowling is Pakistan team’s strength, not batting so the captain should have taken the decision keeping in mind this fact. He looked completely confused as far as use of bowlers was concerned as he made changes in blowing six times in the first eight overs, which spoke volume about his inefficiency to read the game. He bowled first over well so did Sohail, then what was the reason behind keep on changing bowlers without any purpose. In fact, his poor handling of situation allowed Sri Lankan batsmen to settle down and post a decent total of 145 runs in the allotted overs. Sohail Tanvir bowled brilliantly as he bowled last over of the innings conceding only seven runs and that too against two set batsmen and also took prize scalp of well-set Mathews. Bilawal Bhatti did not impress the nation and selectors against Sri Lanka as his wayward and short of length deliveries cost Pakistan team dearly.
The team management had to sit down and try to remove flaws in Bhatti’s bowling otherwise he could lose his place in the side. What was the reason behind including Usman straight into the playing XI, when he had to be utilised just for one over. He had a jetlag and should have been given rest in the first match and instead Junaid should have been given the nod. It was the fault of skipper who should have backed up young pacer Usman and asked him to bowl from round the wicket, as he was finding it difficult to adjust his line against the right-handed batsman.
Instead of leading from the front, Hafeez decided not to give Usman any further overs, which was a grave injustice to a bowler who had taken loads of wickets in the domestic circuit and was drafted in the national team just because of his exceptional performance in his very first domestic season.
Pakistan batting once again failed to live up to the occasion as Ahmed Shahzad lost his wicket cheaply. The team management is wasting Sharjeel Khan’s talent by forcing him to play in the shorter version of the game as he must be given chance in the ODIs because he is a player of ODI and Test cricket but T20 is not his level therefore he failed to play an impressive innings in T20i.
Afridi batted exceptionally well against all the Sri Lankan bowlers which showed that he had talent, guts and power to hit big lusty strokes, if he played sensibly. He must continue with his good form as he is well known for throwing away his wicket away after playing a classic knock. He is a big match player and he must fulfill his potential for the sake of the team and to shut his critics’ mouths. He needs to repeat such performances on regular basis.
The first match triumph has made Pakistan team favourite for the next but they must not sit back and allow Lankans to bounce back. They must go all out for a kill and continue to play aggressively to enforce 2-0 victory, which will help them top the summit in the ICC T20 rankings. Any complacency on part of the green shirts can cost them dearly.