2019 World Cup: Mohammad Amir's ineffectiveness and other issues still plaguing Pakistan ahead of Bangladesh clash

Ashish Peter 25/05/2019
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Question marks remain over Mohammad Amir.

It is the final chance for Pakistan to sharpen their preparations for the 2019 World Cup when they take on Bangladesh in a warm-up clash at Cardiff on Sunday.

The Men in Green lost to Afghanistan by three wickets in their first warm-up game where their shortcomings were exposed. Bangladesh, meanwhile, come into the clash on the back of a morale-boosting win over West Indies in the ODI tri-series held in Ireland.

Ahead of their final warm-up clash, we look at three issues Pakistan still need to sort out before the start of the World Cup.

BATTING CONUNDRUMS CONTINUE

That Pakistan failed to bat out 50 overs on a cracker of a surface against Afghanistan speaks volumes about their inability to figure out the perfect batting formula for ODIs. Had it been an official match, it would have been the 11th ODI loss in a row for Sarfraz Ahmed and his men.

Only centurion Babar Azam managed to look the part with the bat against Afghanistan while Asif Ali’s ability to accelerate lower down the order was desperately missed. Despite scoring over 350 on two occasions in their recent series against Pakistan, question marks have remained on the team’s ability to force the rate of scoring in ODI cricket.

Despite talented batsmen like Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq and Babar, Pakistan’s batting has failed to really click together as a unit with the consistency in the middle-order sorely lacking.

Pakistan still need to master the art of ODI batting.

Pakistan still need to master the art of ODI batting.

AMIR’S WOES SHOWS NO SIGNS OF ENDING

While they will have been encouraged with the returning Wahab Riaz’s three-wicket haul in the Afghanistan loss, Pakistan’s team management will be sweating over the form of Mohammad Amir.

The left-arm pacer continues to look a shadow of his former self and his showing in the Afghanistan clash did little to alleviate fears about his effectiveness ahead of the World Cup.

Amir was economical alright with 27 runs conceded from his six overs but his wicket-less showing means he has now just picked up 5 scalps in his last 15 one-day outings for Pakistan.

Should Amir fail to perform in the final warm-up clash, it will add further pressure on the senior pacer who was not included in the 15-man preliminary squad.

What Amir would give for a wicket right now.

What Amir would give for a wicket right now.

VULNERABILITY AGAINST SPIN

In their innings against Afghanistan, Pakistan’s batsmen were found wanting against spin with as many as five wickets falling to the slower bowlers.

Both Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail had their stumps shattered by Afghan off-spinner Mohammad Nabi while skipper Sarfraz and veteran Mohammad Hafeez fell to Rashid Khan’s guile.

While the wickets at the World Cup are expected to be batting beauties, spin could become key as the tournament wears on and as such, vulnerability against it does not bode well.

It is not usual to see Pakistan’s batsmen struggling against spin and it is something they will want to remedy against a Bangladesh side brimming with slower bowlers.

Afghan spinners thrived against Pakistan.

Afghan spinners thrived against Pakistan.

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Monty Panesar eyeing comeback after overcoming mental health battles

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Former England spinner Monty Panesar (r).

Former England spinner Monty Panesar is hoping to make a return to cricket after battling paranoia/schizophrenia over the last few years.

The 37-year-old left-armer has played 50 Tests for England with his last international appearance coming in the Ashes series against Australia during December, 2013.

It was the same year that Panesar was let go from Sussex after urinating on a nightclub bouncer and he has now been without a county club since 2016 following brief stints at Essex and Northamptonshire.

Panesar has credited former England skipper Mike Brearly, who is a respected psychoanalyst, for helping him overcome his battle with mental woes.

“My parents became worried. They wanted me to see someone,” the former England man told the Daily Mail.

Panesar has picked 167 Test wickets for England.

Panesar has picked 167 Test wickets for England.

“I had always thought strong people couldn’t have a problem. My cricket had always gone the way I had planned it, but suddenly things started going in a direction I hadn’t experienced since childhood.

“It was a guy called Peter Gilmore who said I was suffering from paranoia/schizophrenia and that shocked me massively. Mike Brearley told me to be careful about the things I was saying to myself. Some experts thought I’d never get better but I knew I could fight it, come through it.”

Having picked up 167 Test wickets for England at an average of 34.71, Panesar is now hoping to make a return to competitive cricket.

“I’m mentally and physically 100 per cent back to my best and I’ve been good for the last two years,” he said.

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World Cup 2019: Bereaved Asif Ali leaves for England to rejoin Pakistan squad

Waseem Ahmed 25/05/2019
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Pakistan batsman Asif Ali.

Pakistan batsman Asif Ali has returned to England to rejoin his country’s 2019 ICC World Cup squad following the funeral of his daughter which was held at Faisalabad on Thursday.

Asif Ali’s 19-month-old daughter Dua Fatima had passed away after a battle with cancer last Sunday in the United States where she had been receiving treatment for some time.

Following the tragic loss which took place during Pakistan’s recently concluded ODI series against England, the 27-year-old batsman had been granted leave to return to Faisalabad.

“I want to remember Dua Fatima as a warrior,” Asif Ali wrote on Twitter.

“She was my strength and inspiration. The fragrance of her memories is going to stay with me forever.”

“I again request you all to pray for the soul of my princess. Thanks again for being there for me.”

The right-handed batsman had not been picked in Pakistan’s preliminary 15-man squad for the World Cup but a string of impressive displays in the ODI series against England saw him make the final cut.

Asif registered half-centuries in the Southampton and Bristol ODIs to make his way into the final 15-man squad with pacer Wahab Riaz being the other change from the preliminary squad.

Asif Ali will now hope to be in contention for Pakistan’s second warm-up game against Bangladesh slated to take place on Sunday. Pakistan open their 2019 World Cup campaign on May 31 when they take on West Indies.

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