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Former Pakistan all-rounder Yasir Arafat has expressed his concern about left-arm seamer Mohammad Amir’s lack of wickets during the national team’s recent tour of New Zealand.
Amir featured in four of the five matches during the ODI series, but failed to have much of an impact with the ball as he was restricted to two wickets at an average of 72.50.
He fared a lot better in the three-match Twenty20 series that followed as he picked up three wickets at an average of 21.33.
“For someone who amazed us all with his bowling performance in the Champions Trophy final, it is sad and disappointing that Mohammad Amir could only take 2 wickets in 4 games in the ODI series,” Arafat told PakPassion. “This is not the Amir we were expecting to see as it was expected that he would be able to make breakthroughs early in the innings, similar to how Tim Southee and Trent Boult would get rid of Pakistan’s top-order many times during the series.”
Arafat added that he was equally as concerned about batsman Azhar Ali’s performance as the 32-year-old mustered a measly 12 runs at an average of four in the three ODIs he played.
“Despite his excellent contributions during the Champions Trophy, Azhar did not perform as well as was expected,” Arafat said. “He averaged a very feeble four runs during the ODI series which is pretty low by any standards.
“What the Pakistan selectors need to decide for the future is that if there is a ready replacement for him as an opener, then he should be tried out in place of Azhar, but then a batsmen of his experience cannot be simply discarded.
“He is not old and has a good many years of cricket left in him as a Pakistan player. But, if his performance is not good then his position in the team cannot be guaranteed and he will have to be replaced.”
The 35-year-old also conceded that Pakistan being whitewashed 5-0 in the ODI series is highly worrying, especially with the 2019 World Cup fast approaching.
“The manner of our defeat in the ODI Series in New Zealand has obviously left all of us scratching our heads as to the reasons behind this debacle,” he said. “To start with, I believe that Pakistan failed to prepare adequately for the tour of New Zealand.
“Our preparation was nowhere near the level needed for playing top-quality opposition such as New Zealand. In general, one can find many weak points for Pakistan but in this case, we seemed to have failed in all three departments of the game.
“In the old days when Pakistan teams used to train for tours to Australia or England, they would try and prepare in similar conditions in Abbottabad or in Islamabad. Nothing of that sort happened before the tour of New Zealand.
“In terms of actual match practice before the tour, they played a very weak Sri Lanka side who they beat by a 5-0 margin in the UAE, which was not a real test of their strength. In addition, they did not play any ODI cricket between 23rd of October, when they played the last game of that series against Sri Lanka, and the 6th of January when they faced New Zealand for the series opener.
“To expect our team to do well in New Zealand with such preparation where teams like South Africa and Australia have struggled in the past was unrealistic and so it proved. New Zealand always prepare favourable tracks for their side and even strong sub-continental batting sides such as India also struggle when playing in those conditions.
“Many people mentioned the fact that we lost the first 2 games due to rain alone but let’s be realistic, even if the matches had gone to the full length, we did not have the ability to win those games.
“The fact of the matter is that after the victory in the Champions Trophy, the morale of the team was so high, and they genuinely felt that they could take on any side in the world with ease. All it needed was better preparation and Pakistan could have easily given a better account of themselves on this tour.”