The way Pakistan played in the United Arab Emirates to defeat Sri Lanka was the best way to answer critics. People wrote the greenshirts off because they have had their share of controversies, but Misbah ul Haq and his boys played as if they didn’t care, and came out victorious in the end. They won the Test, One day and Twenty20 series, making the tour their most successful in recent years!
This Pakistan side may be better than the ones we have seen in recent years, but it needs to improve a lot. The squad for Bangladesh doesn’t have an express fast bowler who can scare the hell out of the opponents, ala Shoaib Akhtar. The spinners are the best there could be, but we need a solid opening batsman who can chase in the second innings as well as score in the first. Imran Farhat always proves to be the weak link when the team is batting second, and either he needs to improve or make way for many players waiting for their chance to serve the country.
The captain Misbah ul Haq needs to act his age as well. At 37, he is not a young man who gets dismissed on reverse sweep. That shot fits the younger lot like Umar Akmal and Asad Shafiq, and if Misbah can stay away from such shots, it will benefit the team. Sarfaraz Ahmed, the wicket-keeper did excellently in the one dayers and only if he could improve his batting, he could prove to the worthy successor of Rashid Latif.
And then there is the coach who looks more of a filmstar than a coach! That’s true because Mohsin Hassan Khan acted in over 50 Bollywood and Lollywood movies combined, and was even nominated for the coveted Filmfare Awards for his acting skills in Batwaara (He lost to Nana Patekar’s Anna in Parinda). Mohsin Khan may be the only actor to bowl over maidens and play maidens as well, but his coaching skills need tuning. First of all, his ‘extremely boring’ meetings scare the players more than they are actually scared by the opposing side. The stale meetings – with a prayer in the end – have become more of a joke for the players than anything else.
What Pakistan needs is a coach who understands the game, someone like Dav Whatmore. The former Australian cricketer and Sri Lankan coach single handedly took cricket to another level when he introduced pinch-hitters in the game 15 years back. His innovations changed the way cricket was played and one is sure that his appointment will help Pakistan cricket as well. The only problem is the players themselves because Whatmore is known to be a tough coach with a no-nonsense attitude. The last time Whatmore’s name came up as a potential coach, they made the board go for the inexperienced Geoff Lawson, mostly because he was inexperienced. If they want to make their country proud, they will not interfere in the selection procedure now!