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Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal has attributed the national team’s disastrous ongoing tour of South Africa on poor team selection.
Pakistan have already lost the Test series as they trail 2-0 going into the third Test in Johannesburg on January 11.
“I think the entire team, management, coaching staff and selectors are equally responsible for the debacle. When Pakistan failed to beat the likes of New Zealand in the UAE, how on earth they could dream about doing well against the South Africa at their home grounds?” he told The Nation.
Akmal feels that Pakistan’s seamers have failed to live up to expectations, especially in regards to the pace they are bowling at.
“I am surprised that not a single Pakistani bowler is bowling in the range of 140 or beyond as 130 or above can’t guarantee success,” he said.
Akmal noted that he was shocked when pace bowler Hasan Ali was dropped for the second Test in Cape Town, and added that Mohammad Abbas was bowling slower than usual in the match, which marked his comeback from a shoulder injury.
“I am highly surprised and fail to understand on what grounds a top-class express pacer like Hasan Ali was dropped for the second Test. Hasan bowled superbly on the dead tracks in the United Arab Emirates and his deliveries were not only swinging, but also creating trouble for the batsmen.
“He was the only bowler, who was bowling at a consistent pace of over 140km. Bowling a few deliveries at 130 odd and maintaining consistency is something different, which I feel the Pakistan team management completely ignored.
“Mohammad Abbas’ pace dipped somewhat, which is alarming. He was bowling at 130 odd on a consistent basis, but I feel the dip is because of his injury and he is still recovering.
“[Furthermore], why were two similar kinds of left-arm bowlers in Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Shah Afridi selected and Hasan was dropped. If I were captain, I would have picked Shadab Khan, who can also bat as he has scored three half-centuries and is also a good wicket taker.”
Kamran also called on the national selectors to give opportunities to domestic cricketers who are scoring runs and taking wickets on a consistent basis.
“None of the Indian newcomers had scored less than 10 centuries in the domestic format and then they are given the chance to represent the national team unlike Pakistan, where one innings and that too in T20 or PSL is the ticket for selection in the national team and that too in all three formats,” he said. “The selectors have to understand that domestic cricketers deserve chances.
“Abid Ali scored loads of runs in domestic cricket and he was a hit against the England Lions in the UAE. Forty two different players were given chances against the England Lions, but nobody [knows] that the top performers are sitting home and those who have one innings to their credit are playing for Pakistan A and even the national team.”
Pakistan’s opening pair of Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman have failed to have much of an impact against South Africa as they are averaging 17.75 and eight respectively.
However, Akmal pointed out that Pakistan’s opening woes will continue unless they give domestic cricketers who have been excelling a chance to prove their worth at the international level.
“Test cricket is completely different to the shorter format, which demands strong stamina, patience and the desire to stay at the crease,” he said. “Twenty-year-old players are being provided Test caps, but they have failed to handle the pressure. When Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada are bowling at express pace, how our the young guns going to handle their pace?”
“Let me make it very clear that in the coming few months, Pakistan is bound to suffer more and more, just because of poor selection. Only those youngsters who have been scoring on consistent basis in their particular formats must be considered for national selection. They should be kept on the bench and given time to learn from the seniors.”
With the third Test against South Africa getting underway in three days’ time, Akmal noted that captain Sarfraz Ahmed will have to think long and hard about his playing XI.
Despite this, Akmal urged Sarfraz to add Hasan back into the squad.
“Sarfraz and company must pick the playing XI for the third Test according to the situation. Hasan Ali should be part of every mach due to his consistent performances, as he can win matches for Pakistan, while the batsmen have to accept their responsibilities and bat sensibly,” he said. “They have to dig deep, wait for the right delivery and rotate the strike. I can only pray for the team and hope they will do well for the reminder of the series.”
“I think the entire team, management, coaching staff and selectors are equally responsible for the debacle. When Pakistan failed to beat the likes of New Zealand in the UAE, how on earth they could dream about doing well against the South Africa at their home grounds?”