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Pakistan’s team selection for the T20 World Cup 2021 has been under scrutiny since September 6 when it was announced. Many people think some of the selected players are not capable of performing at the international level while others go a step ahead and criticize the probable Chairman PCB Ramiz Raja for dictating the team management.
Whenever teams are announced for a series or tournament, fans always come up with different opinions. Every player has his fans and admirers in both common masses as well as Journalists and experts. So, criticism is always inevitable on the team selection but there are a couple of ways to avoid it.
The best one of those is that “Selection should be justifiable.” If a selector or coach can justify the inclusions and exclusions of players, people would be unhappy but won’t be hyper or angry at the development. If a selector can not justify his team selection rather picks guys on the wishes of a higher authority, he is due to deal with the consequences that won’t be good for him in a cricket-loving country like Pakistan.
How Mohammad Wasim went wrong?
Mohammad Wasim took over the post of Chief Selector after Pakistan toured New Zealand at the start of this year. The first team he announced was for a home series against South Africa. Wasim had come up with a lot of stats and data to support his arguments regarding his selection.
While announcing the squad for T20 World Cup 2021, he had arguments in support of the selected guys but data was lacking. Even Wasim himself knew that stats and data is against him this time. Automatically, it was as if he was allowing others to criticize him.
Why the selection was inappropriate?
Asif Ali is part of Pakistan’s squad for the T20 World Cup 2021. 29 years old came in the limelight back in 2018 when he smashed Hasan Ali’s 3 deliveries out of the park to hand Islamabad United an easy victory in the final. So far, in 29 T20I appearances, he has managed to score just 344 with an average of 16 and a strike rate of 123.
Khushdil Shah and Azam Khan are two other selections to solve the issue of no.5 and 6. Both Khushdil and Azam have scored just 130 and 6 respectively in T20I cricket. Khushdil has played 9 innings in T20 international cricket. He averages 21 and has a very ordinary strike rate of 109.
Azam has played just 2 innings for Pakistan so it would be inappropriate to appreciate or criticize this 23-year-old. But let’s talk about Sohaib Maqsood who has an average of just 13 in T20 international cricket. 34 years old has a strike rate of just 116 in 26 T20I appearances.
All 4 of these combined, average 14.42 with a strike rate of just 108.83. If we compare them with Sarfraz, Malik, Sharjeel, and Fakhar Zaman, there will be a difference of 11.43 and 21.24 in both average and strike rates, respectively. It means the current cast will come up with a deficit of 11 runs in each game, putting extra pressure on the bowlers who are supposed to defend a total that would be 11 runs shorter than Pakistan’s average total. Considering the low strike rates, the deficit can count to 25 plus.
Comparing them with India’s no.5 and 6 batters; Rahul, Pant, Pandya, and Ishan Kishan respectively, the deficit can count to more than 30. India’s core plays with a strike rate of 136.10 and they average 27.40 in their T20I games. With the current cast, Pakistan will be 16 runs shorter than India’s total. Here is how Fans react to India T20 World Cup squad
The estimation is made on an average basis. The strike rate already counts a deficit of 28, what will they do against Bumrah and Bhubaneswar is the topic of another day. Whatever the selection would be, numbers and ground realities tell us that Pakistan can’t win any game if it would be up to their middle-order or lower order.
Why Team Selection is not Bad?
Whoever selected the current squad, the logic and thinking behind are quite clear. With Babar and Rizwan opening, Pakistan has no issues at the top order. Maqsood was considered to bring fire-power at the top order while Hafeez had to be there, thanks to his off-spin. This is what our top 4 had to look like.
Most of us would like to see Sharjeel with Rizwan while bringing Babar at 3, nobody likes to lose his best batsman in the first over. But let’s agree with the selector that Maqsood also isn’t bad. At 5 and 6, Pakistan always had problems. Its history dates back to the day Umar Akmal was ruled out of the team.
In the last couple of years, Pakistan was playing a lot of players at these numbers and nobody settled down. Take Sarfaraz’s case, he is not a dangerous player in T20 cricket if sent at no.5 or 6. Malik has a record of losing games for the team in the death overs. Sharjeel Khan and Fakhar Zaman are not middle-order batsmen, both of them are specialist openers.
Pakistan has no place for any player in the top 4. In presence of Babar and Rizwan, they needed someone like Sharjeel or Maqsood, both Malik and Sarfraz can’t find a place in the final XI. The only candidates to consider for no.5 and 6 are quoted are selected for the T20 World Cup 2021.
Their replacements can be Iftikhar Ahmad and Danish Aziz. The other option is to rely on Imad Wasim or Mohammad Nawaz to take the no.6 position. In this scenario, the selection of Khushdil, Asif, and Azam Khan makes sense.
Fact: It is heard that Babar Azam was unhappy with the Pakistan Wt20 squad
Why selection is being criticized?
There are a couple of reasons and number one is the fans’ love for the game. In Pakistan, everyone has a say on cricket, and fans know and understand this game. Everyone knows Pakistan needed fire-power at the top order.
They understand that leg-spinners of Usman Qadir’s class pick a lot of wickets in T20 cricket these days. When there are a couple of intellectuals of the same subject under the same roof, debate and hard talk are not surprising.
The second reason is that the selection is not justifiable. Mohammad Wasim can’t convince any person that why he needed Mohammad Nawaz in place of Usman Qadir when Imad Wasim is already there? He has no answers why he did not prefer Sarjeel over Asif Ali when he has options for no.6 but nobody can open if either Babar or Rizwan sits down.
Wasim would be silent if anyone asks why he could not play Wahab Riaz when Haris Rauf is not performing well. These are valid questions to ask from the Cheif Selector and he can not justify anything. He already has said in his press conference that, “These players did not perform well but we picked them because others also have not done well.”
Wasim must know that “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Secondly, if the captain is not given the required respect and value, selections don’t improve the results. When Ramiz Raja told Babar Azam, “Focus on your game instead of names,” while the latter called him to talk about the squad, he must have realized that the victory or failure in T20 World Cup 2021 is not his concern.
He won’t be responsible for anything. Instead, these were Babar, Wasim, and Misbah, working in the office for a year and a half. Such policies of the expected chairman PCB won’t be good for the national Cricket in the long term.
Institutions-building, policymaking, following the constitution, and respecting the laws are done just to avoid such velitations. Ramiz Raja must not cross his limits and Chief Selector and captain should not weaken their positions. If Babar and Wasim had done this selection and Misbah also had been taken into confidence, there would have been a consensus.
There would have been a lesser fuss on the mainstream and social media among the fans and cricket experts.