As the World Cup drew to a close, I was asked to write my opinion regarding the individual performances of the Pakistan players.
Now that Australia have finished as deserving winners, people have somewhat got over their World Cup fever and, the dust having settled, I feel it is the right time to assess the Pakistani players.
– VIDEO: Azhar Ali named Pakistan captain
In short, I feel that the team did well overall in absence of key players such as Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan. If New Zealand had been without Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson, Trent Boult and Daniel Vettori or Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson had missed Australia’s campaign then they would have struggled as well, which is why I feel Pakistan did not underachieve.
Having said that, team management did misuse the resources at their disposal by leaving out the likes of Sarfaraz Ahmed, Younis Khan and Yasir Shah when they were most needed. Another fault I saw from the management was their failure to evoke the passion required at such a big event. It seemed like it was only evident in Pakistan’s thrilling win over South Africa in the group stages.
Pakistan’s average score in the World Cup was below the 250-run mark in a tournament where the par score was easily 300 so you cannot expect miracles on a regular basis when such totals can be achieved in the T20 format as well.
Sarfaraz Ahmed – 8 (out of 10)
Sarfaraz was definitely the star of the tournament for Pakistan with two man of the match awards in three outings speaking volume for what he brings to the Pakistan side. He was the missing fuel and bravery that the side needed from the off.
The whole of Pakistan was championing Sarfaraz’s inclusion but had to wait for his chance in the side. The street-smart Sarfaraz did Pakistan proud with the gutsy performances that make him my highest ranked player.
Pakistan have got a real world-class player of their hand and in my opinion he was the best captaincy candidate to take over from Misbah-ul-Haq but board instead backed Azhar Ali. Sarfraz will act as vice captain with the plan to install him into the post later on but I feel he is ready now.
Misbah-ul-Haq – 7
The skipper Misbah was once again the constant in the Pakistani batting lineup, as he has been for the last five years. When everyone was back in the hut, he was fighting like a lone survivor and kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Overall, his captaincy was good and Misbah made his presence felt on the field.
MIsbah was denied finishing his ODI career on a stronger note by Pakistan’s missing stars and had they been better in the field.
Wahab Riaz – 7
It came as a surprise to see Riaz – known for being wayward and inconsistent – finally realizing his potential on the sport’s grandest stage as he delivered on a consistent basis.
He certainly brought back the lost respect of Pakistani fast bowlers, bowling with venom and aggression. Shane Watson and Australia felt the Riaz heat in one of the finest spells of bowling in World Cup history but I feel he will struggle to repeat that in the remainder of his career.
Hopefully, he will prove me wrong and be able to continue his superb World Cup form after the tournament.
Mohammad Irfan – 6
Gentle giant Irfan was finding his feet towards the end of the group stages when he bowled superbly against Zimbabwe and South Africa and it was a shame that injury ended his World Cup campaign.
He had found that cutting edge and the result against Australia could have been different had Irfan been on the field. Irfan did deliver what was expected from him but he himself would be gutted not to play in last-eight match.
Haris Sohail – 6
Being a newcomer to the team, Haris had a fair outing in Australia and New Zealand but was denied the chance to make an even greater impact due to his absence in the early stages.
He batted with a solid method and good technique but was unable to convert the starts he made. Haris’ mindset is good but he needs to get over his shortcomings quickly if he wants to enter the league of match-winners, which his talent undoubtedly suggests.
Sohaib Maqsood – 5
A lot was expected of Sohaib because the conditions in Australia and New Zealand favour his style of play as he likes to cut and pull the ball with a horizontal bat.
He should have stamped his mark on the World Cup as it was a tailor-made situation for him but he was not able to deliver the potential he possesses.
Ahmed Shahzad – 5
In all honesty, the flamboyant Ahmed Shahzad did not meet his own standards and he could have done a lot better. For Shahzad, it is his mindset which needs changing.
Shahid Afridi – 5
Star all-rounder Afridi failed to make his mark in his last hurrah in ODIs and it is a sad end for him.
He did bowl well throughout but failed to take the number of wickets he has in previous World Cups. Afridi’s ability to take crucial wickets was missing this time around.
Younis Khan – 5
As mentioned above, Younis was misused by Pakistan. Having played a vital 37-run knock against South Africa to help put up a decent total, he found himself dropped for the following matches.
Younis’ experience was vital against the Proteas but his performance was only rewarded with a spell on the sidelines. With the kind of form he was in leading up to the World Cup, it was a chance missed for both Younis and Pakistan.
Rahat Ali – 5
Rahat Ali bowled well up until the quarter-final loss to Australia where he just could not cope with the pressure, missing the chance to grab Watson and, who knows, maybe even the World Cup.
However, he was the only Pakistan bowler who had the command and skill to move the ball both ways.
Sohail Khan – 5
Despite looking like a body builder, Khan gave his all on the cricket pitch and used his previous experience in death overs to good effect, bar the game against the West Indies when Andre Russell took him to cleaners.
With better fitness levels, he could have been integral to Pakistan success.
Ehsan Adil – 4
The slim seamer was far too inexperienced for such a big event and his performances have largely gone unnoticed.
He has got the potential but he needs to get stronger. If nurtured properly, Eshan could prove to be a very good player in future.
Yasir Shah – 3
Yasir’s case was another not dealt with properly by management or captain.
Leg-spinners cannot perform well without confidence and overs in their arm and that is exactly what happened to Yasir after being given a sole outing against arch-rivals India.
Umar Akmal – 4
For all the potential, timing and strength Umar Akmal has, he remains a contradiction of himself and his talent.
He needs tuning in his weakest attribute, which tends to be his brain.
Nasir Jamshed – 2
Most people would give Jamshed a zero but I give him two marks – one for being called up for a World Cup and one for failing in three matches.
He struggled with his mental attitude, form and fitness. His failure was no surprise because he was out of touch and this was the very reason I was staunchly against his selection.
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