Pakistan were swept aside by the Aussies in the five-match series as they succumbed to a 5-0 ODI whitewash for only the fourth time in their history. While several senior players were handed a rest, Pakistan’s inability to force the scoring rate was evident across the series with the team struggling to breach the 300-run mark.
“That’s (lack of big hitters) one of our areas of concern,” Arthur was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz upon the team’s return to Lahore.
“We have to make sure that we get our guys to bat in those positions as best as they can. That’s the reason we used Faheem Ashraf in two games. He has done hell of a work in that regard and we wanted to give him more batting time.
“We have worked really hard with Imad Wasim in that role. Hasan (Ali) can hit the ball long distances. Shadab (Khan) has worked extremely hard on that aspect of his game. Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez have worked consistently on their power-hitting. But, it is an area that is a worry and we have to work extremely hard to rectify it.”
One of the men Pakistan were looking to solve their power-hitting woes was Umar Akmal with the right-handed batsman handed a recall to the ODI squad after more than two years.
However, Akmal faded away after a promising 48 in the first ODI and was in the news for the wrong reasons after being officially reprimanded for a late night out ahead of the final clash at Dubai.
“Umar Akmal’s attitude through the tour was very good. He worked exceptionally hard, trained hard, and tried very hard to impress in all areas. He’ll be disappointed that he didn’t get a big innings,” explained Arthur.
Pakistan’s 2019 ICC World Cup sojourn will begin on April 23 when they depart for England. The Men in Green are slated to take on hosts England in a five-match ODI series along with a solitary T20 clash before heading into the World Cup warm-up matches.
28-year-old Blundell made his Test debut for New Zealand in December, 2017 and instantly made an impact with a superb century. The right-hander has so far played two Tests and three T20s but is yet to be capped at the ODI level for New Zealand.
Blundell’s inclusion was the biggest talking point from the final 15-man squad as the Blackcaps became the first of the 10 teams to confirm their personnel for the World Cup.
Meanwhile, Ish Sodhi beat off competition from fellow leg-spinner Todd Astle to take his spot as the second spinner in the Kiwi side which also includes Mitchell Santner.
“As with any squad named for a major tournament, there’s had to be some tough calls and there will be some disappointed players,” New Zealand head coach Gary Stead stated.
“The key for us was finding the right balance for the squad and making sure we had our bases covered for what is going to be a very competitive World Cup. As a one-day unit we’ve been pretty consistent over the past few years and possess a very experienced group of core players, proven at the top level.
“The World Cup is the pinnacle of cricket and to be the first nation to name a squad for the tournament is really exciting. I’d like to congratulate all the players selected. To represent your country at a World Cup is a huge honour and I know the entire squad and support staff are looking forward to the challenges ahead.”
The Kiwis open their World Cup campaign on June 1 with a clash against Sri Lanka at Cardiff.
NEW ZEALAND 15-MAN SQUAD
Kane Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.
The comprehensive loss was only the fourth time in history that the Men in Green had been blanked 5-0 in a bilateral series. Nothing seemed to go right for Mickey Arthur and his men against the Aussies with the absence of several senior stars like Sarfraz Ahmed dearly felt.
Having been swept aside by Aaron Finch and his men, questions will be asked of Pakistan’s World Cup credentials and rightly so.
Here, we look at how the Pakistan players fared in the five losses and rate each of them out of 10.
Imam-ul-Haq – 4
The Pakistan opener has an excellent ODI record in his short career so far but he was way below his best in his three appearances in the series where he could only register a high score of 46.
Shan Masood – 5
The left-hander was handed his ODI debut on the back of his impressive Test displays but failed to really seize his chance with some mixed displays. A half-century in the final ODI was his saving grace.
Abid Ali – 7
The 31-year-old became only the third Pakistan batsman to register a ton on his ODI debut in a promising start to his international career. Was dismissed for a duck in the final ODI however.
Haris Sohail – 8
The top-order batsman was one of the few positives for Pakistan from an otherwise shambolic display. The two centuries scored by Sohail should confirm his spot in Pakistan’s World Cup squad as well.
Mohammad Rizwan – 8
The wicketkeeper batsman’s display was perhaps the brightest spark in a series to forget for Pakistan with Rizwan crafting two excellent centuries. Might have confirmed his World Cup ticket as well.
Umar Akmal – 5
The middle-order batsman was given a new lease of life in international cricket but he squandered that away after failing to register a single half-century in his five appearances.
Shoaib Malik – 7
The veteran batsman did his part in the first three ODIs with an excellent half-century in Sharjah before his series was cut short.
Saad Ali – 3
The 25-year-old was given two outings to prove his worth but he failed miserably with a combined score of just 11 runs.
Faheem Ashraf – 6
The Pakistan all-rounder made just two appearances before he was handed a well-deserved rest. Did not really create the impact that would have been expected from him, especially with the ball.
Imad Wasim – 7
The stand-in Pakistan skipper looked in good touch with both bat and ball, especially the former where he played some handy quick-fire cameos down the order.
Yasir Shah – 5
The senior Pakistan leg-spinner was given a chance to prove his limited-overs credentials in the absence of Shadab Khan but he failed to really rise to the occasion with just four wickets to show for. Has probably killed any hopes he had of a World Cup call up.
Mohammad Hasnain – 5
The 18-year-old pacer was handed a debut after his excellent Pakistan Super League displays. He went wicket-less in two of his appearances and picked up two scalps in the third. Showed some promise with his raw pace but has some way to go before he can establish himself as a permanent member of the squad.
Usman Shinwari – 7
The pick of Pakistan’s pacers in the five-match series, Shinwari more than did his part by picking up five wickets in three matches including a four-wicket haul in the final ODI at Dubai.
Mohammad Abbas – 5
The Pakistan Test specialist was decent at best in his three appearances which fetched him two wickets. The seamer did not look as effective with the white-ball in hand and it will be a surprise to see him get further chances in the shorter formats.
Junaid Khan – 5
A mixed display for the pacer who has found opportunities hard to come by on a consistent basis at the international level. Did pick up three wickets in the final ODI but was also pretty expensive.
Mohammad Amir – 4
The senior Pakistan pacer’s limited-overs woes continued unabated with his World Cup credentials now looking extremely dicey. Amir was taken for 59 runs in the first ODI without any wickets to show for before being summarily dropped for the remainder of the series. Where does Amir go from here?