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Misbah ul-Haq bows out with more selection gaffes

Misbah
Misbah' ul-Haq's selection calls for the New Zealand tour have been baffling, to say the least.
ANALYST
Modified 12 Nov 2020, 15:18 IST
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Misbah ul-Haq's short tenure as Pakistan's head coach and chief selector ended on an expected whimper, as he made a bevvy of seemingly whimsical selections and omissions.

On Wednesday, Misbah ul-Haq announced a 35-man squad for Pakistan's upcoming New Zealand tour that had glaring omissions like Mohammad Amir, Shoaib Malik and Test veteran Asad Shafiq.

It is tough to term these omissions naive or short-sighted, but they certainly do not appear to be bright decisions on the part of Misbah ul-Haq either.

Misbah ul-Haq's slew of selection gaffes for the New Zealand tour could hurt Pakistan's chances

Pakistan have enjoyed a decent run in New Zealand across formats, especially in the last decade. However, in their last Test series in the country, which wasn't a very memorable one, Mohammad Amir starred as one of the standouts. In that backdrop, the decision to leave Amir beggars belief even though the left-armer hasn't played the longest format of the game for a while.

Dropping a player of Shafiq's stature because of his poor run of recent form - he scored only 67 runs in six innings against England - is quite baffling. If a player's dry patch merits his non-selection, Misbah ul-Haq should have used the same yardstick against Fakhar Zaman and Iftikhar Ahmed too.

Shafiq has one of the best averages among Pakistani Test batsmen outside Asia and played a pivotal role, along with Misbah ul-Haq himself, in the series win against New Zealand in 2011. Yet the player is not in the team this time.

In the same vein, Fakhar Zaman's selection based on his power-hitting prowess is nothing short of ridiculous.

Zaman only managed two fifties in six outings for Khyber in the recently-concluded National T20 Cup. In the three T20Is against Zimbabwe, he managed only 45 runs. Similar returns spelled the end of Asif Ali's short international career; However, such misfortune did not befall Zaman; in fact, he found a place in the team to tour New Zealand. 

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Iftikhar Ahmed's selection in limited-overs cricket is also subject to scrutiny. Apart from two outstanding knocks in Australia, he has struggled to make his mark.

In the recent series against the 14th ranked ODI team, Zimbabwe, Iftikhar Ahmed scored a paltry 46 runs. Had it not been for his incredibly lucky spell with the ball in the second game, where he picked up five wickets, Misbah ul-Haq would have had a hard time defending Iftikhar Ahmed's pick.

Shoaib Malik also seemed to be one of the victims of Misbah ul-Haq's questionable selection calls.

Misbah ul-Haq defended the decision to pick both Hafeez and Malik for the T20s against Bangladesh on the premise that they were experienced campaigners. Malik did not get an opportunity in England, as the bulk of the runs came from the top four.

And now, ahead of the tour to New Zealand, Malik finds himself out of the team. His stop-start stints with the Pakistan team continues along with that of a few other experienced players.

Mohammad Amir has to be the pick of Misbah ul-Haq's selection gaffes should feel the most victimised, an opinion he certainly made clear in a Twitter post.

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It seems as if the PCB is still holding a grudge against the paceman for his decision to quit Test cricket. While one can criticise Amir for announcing his retirement from Test cricket after the PCB did its utmost to get him back in the international fold. Nevertheless, to sideline him from Pakistan's 35-man squad to New Zealand looks like another of Misbah ul-Haq's random decisions.

Misbah ul-Haq and co. seem to be all at sea regarding their upcoming tour. Misbah ul-Haq had gambled by picking a teenage pace battery to Australia last year, a decision that spectacularly backfired.

This time around, he seems to have gone with the popular opinion in Pakistan - picking the upcoming allrounders in the squad. The inclusion of Hussain Talat, Amad Butt and Imran Butt seems to be in line with Misbah ul-Haq's dead-cat strategy to lift spirits in the cricketing fraternity amidst desperate times.

Needless to say, from backing underperforming players to dropping ones with proven pedigree and swaying to popular public opinion, Misbah ul-Haq's selection calls have been a massive disappointment: .

While it remains to be seen how Pakistan fare in New Zealand, it is unlikely that Misbah ul-Haq's tenure as chief selector will be remembered too fondly by the country's players and fans alike.

Published 12 Nov 2020, 15:18 IST
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