The winds of changes have been blowing strongly for Pakistan in the last few months seeing a new administration, a new-look coaching staff and a completely revamped domestic structure being implemented across the board.
At the top, new managing director Wasim Khan has taken reigns of the board under chief executive Ehsan Mani, while former skipper Misbah-ul-Haq has been appointed as the head coach and chief selector of the Pakistan’s men team.
Meanwhile, the domestic cricket structure has undergone a complete overhaul with a new first-class set-up replacing the previous model of inter-department rivalries.
More recently, international cricket has returned to the country in a big way with Pakistan hosting Sri Lanka for the first Test series on its soil in over a decade. Very soon, Bangladesh will also be playing Test cricket in Pakistan while the upcoming edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) will be held entirely in the country for the very first time.
While the recent signs are encouraging to say the least for Pakistan, former star all-rounder and skipper Shahid Afridi has advocated more patience with the new system.
“I don’t believe in a two or three-year system,” Afridi told Sport360 in an exclusive chat on the sidelines of the Expo 2020 Dubai cricket tournament final.
“When something is planned on such a big scale, then you need it for the next 15 or 20 years. Right now, the new management has an opportunity and we just have to see how they will deliver everything.”
Coming to the current Pakistan team’s performances, Afridi has backed Misbah to produce the goods in his new role. Since Misbah replaced Mickey Arthur as the head coach, Pakistan’s performances have suffered with the Men in Green facing a crushing T20 series loss at home to a second-string Sri Lanka outfit. They were then blanked in both the T20I and Test formats in their tour of Australia with David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne putting their bowlers to the sword.
However, things are starting to look up of late after a comprehensive Test series win over Sri Lanka followed by a T20I series win over Bangladesh more recently.
“Misbah has a huge responsibility on how he can deliver and more importantly, it’s the player’s responsibility to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Afridi.
“Right now, we have some good and aggressive players. In terms of the bowling, if you see, we have a good line-up. For batting, we are missing out a few as usual and we normally struggle in this department.”
One man, in particular, who has disappointed with the bat for Pakistan is Fakhar Zaman. The left-hander had a superb debut year for Pakistan in 2017 but now finds himself axed from the squad after an extended lean patch.
“I was expecting a lot out of Fakhar Zaman in the opener’s slot but he couldn’t as perform as well,” Afridi stated.
“But other guys are getting a chance here and T20 World Cup is going to start in while, so we should be able to create a good combination ahead of that.”
With over 8,000 runs and nearly 400 ODI wickets, Afridi remains one of the finest limited-overs all-rounders to play for Pakistan. The 39-year-old believes Pakistan have missed an efficient all-rounder in the last few years, but is backing Imad Wasim to thrive in the role with more experience.
“After Abdul Razzaq and me, I don’t think I have seen that kind of a player (all-rounder). I still have hope, it would be better if we get a player like that soon.” he said.
“I do think Imad Wasim is capable. He gets a lot of runs and is good with the new and old ball. It really depends on his fitness as well. If he is fit, he can definitely deliver really good performances for Pakistan.”
Misbah’s Pakistan outfit will next be in action on Friday when they host Bangladesh in the first Test at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
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