What’s the story?
Following Pakistan’s humiliating 124-run defeat against arch-rivals India at Edgbaston in the Champions Trophy encounter on Sunday, former speedster Shoaib Akhtar has slammed Sarfraz Ahmed for his ‘poor captaincy’. The 41-year-old also lashed out at head coach Mickey Arthur over his team selection for the high-pressure game.
Akhtar said, “Who in their right mind would open the bowling in such English conditions with a spinner who can turn the ball. The only way to beat India was to bowl them out for a manageable total by taking wickets. Yet, instead of attacking them with the new ball, we chose to contain them. This was poor captaincy and poor decision making by the team think-tank.”
He added, “It is astonishing that the coach does not see any difference between Junaid (Khan) and Hasan (Ali). How can you compare them - one is a natural left-arm swing bowler and the other is a right-arm pacer.”
Even though Wahab Riaz was under a fitness cloud, Pakistan’s team management preferred him over the more accurate Junaid Khan. At the end of the match, Arthur took the blame for the selection and revealed that the move had risen as a result of Riaz’s extra pace. He insisted that the likes of Junaid, Hasan and Mohammad Amir were similar in terms of pace.
The heart of the matter
Upon winning a handy toss in overcast conditions and witnessing a rousing opening over from Amir, Sarfraz surprisingly decided to give the new-ball to Imad Wasim at the other end. India’s opening duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma milked the left-arm spinner’s initial spell by manoeuvring the ball into the gaps.
When Virat Kohli came into the middle, Sarfraz persisted with spin from both ends instead of attacking the Indian skipper by bringing a fast bowler into the attack. With Riaz limping off the field after conceding the most expensive figures in Champions Trophy history and Amir also hobbling off the field, Imad had to bowl the final over of the innings. Once India registered a daunting total of 319/3, there was no way back for Pakistan.
Pakistan take on South Africa at Edgbaston on 7th and then lock horns with Sri Lanka at Cardiff on 12th. Considering their woeful net run rate of -3.024, they will have to win both matches and hope that other results go their way.
Sarfraz’s captaincy was quite bizarre, to say the least. Even though the difference in the quality of both teams was pretty high, a better leader could have turned the match into a much closer affair. The wicket-keeper batsman cannot afford any more slip-ups if Pakistan are to entertain thoughts of reaching the semi-finals.Published 05 Jun 2017, 22:56 IST