Scathing report by team manager says Afridi was ‘clueless’ both on and off-field
According to ESPNCricinfo, Intikhab Alam lashed at Afridi’s off-field leadership and on-field tactics in the report which covered the New Zealand tour and World Twenty20 and mentioned how the squads got into controversies during the 2016 World T20.
He wrote, “The recent Asia Cup and the ICC World T20 have made it evident that we have critical gaps both in batting and bowling, and our fielding keeps on leaking runs, thus releasing pressure. In bowling, with the exception of Mohammad Amir, we do not have a bowler who can win us matches. Our death bowling also is way below par. And the same goes with our batting line-up, where we do not have reliable pinch hitters and the top and power hitter to clinch us games.”
“To cap it all, the tournament was being held in India, where the team was under multiple scanners at the same time, pushing the stress and anxiety levels very high. Much to our chagrin [added to the above reasons], was a captain in his farewell event after a career spanning nearly 20 years, yet absolutely clueless in terms of on-field tactics and off-field leadership,” he added.
The team manager said that the side were also set back by two acontroversies, the first emanating from Afridi’s ‘more-loved-in-India-than-in-Pakistan’ statement in his mandatory on-arrival press conference and Umar Akmal seeking Imran Khan’s intervention to fix his batting position at three, when he had done little to inspire confidence at number 4.
“On the day, the events also conspired against us. For one, the weather didn’t help. On the same square where the Pakistan batsmen gave a command performance against Sri Lanka [the warm-up match] and Bangladesh, the weather suddenly turned from sultry and sunny to wet and unpredictable. Intermittent rain during the night prior to the game, followed by further downpours and overcast skies, meant that the pitch and outfield remained covered for more than 24 hours, changing its character from slow in pace to a spitefully turning and gripping one,” he wrote.
He went on to state that Shahid Afridi invited Imran Khan for a pep talk prior to the game to lift the morale of his players. He added that Khan advised the boys to stay positive till the last ball was bowled and never allow the possibility of defeat enter their consciousness.
“It was a pretty decent one as far as pep talks go, but it was evident that Imran – not unlike many outstanding exponents of the game from his time who have not stayed abreast with it – was not too familiar with the demands and tactics employed in this condensed, post-modern format of the game,” Alam stated.
The team manager added that he also felt if proper field placing was placed for Shoaib Malik in his initial over may have given the team a breakthrough; it was very surprising to see in a low-scoring game there was no attacking field-placing. “There was no slip; had he employed a slip cordon for Malik, we may have had Yuvraj as two chances from his blade went through,” he added.
He went on to say, “Earlier our batting, too, had left much to be desired. Hafeez was not sent in at number three while Sarfraz too did not get a meaningful strike. These two were our best bets, as they were our prime exponents against spin. The Indian spin attack was not challenged at all by our batting, save Shoaib Malik near the closing stages, resulting in a total that was 20 runs short of the average on the Eden Garden turf.”
The manager mentioned that using Sarfraz Ahmed was a “critical waste of talent and form”. He also criticized the inclusion of Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad in the tournament.
“The news of groupings in the team only emerged after the team’s loss to New Zealand. It may have been fed from inside the team only to divert attention and shift blame from the captain’s and other boys’ failure,” he added.
“In my opinion, to alleviate our situation in shorter formats of the game, we have to make a comprehensive plan at the Board level. And this includes improving our selection methods. Pick-up, drop, pick-up routine has not helped us at all, neither has bowing down to player power nor hanging on to the so-called ‘talented mavericks’ who refuse to learn, evolve and deliver,” he stated.