End Of Season Reports 2: Pakistan
Tests 5th, ODI 6th, T20 5th
Asia Cup – Won
England (H) – T20 Lost 2-1 (3), ODI Lost 4-0 (4), Tests Won 3-0 (3)
Bangladesh (A) – Tests Won 2-0 (2), ODI Won 3-0 (3), T20 Won 1-0 (1)
Sri Lanka (H) – ODI Won 4-1 (5), T20 Won 1-0 (1), Tests Won 1-0 (3)
It was a rather splendid winter for Pakistan; for all their troubles and controversies on and off the pitch for several years now, it is a good feeling to be able to focus on the cricket. Of course, in an ideal world all of their home series truly would be played at home rather than the distant stadia of the Emirates, but that at present looks unlikely, despite the confirmation (for now) that Bangladesh will tour later at the end of April.
The team played eight Tests over the winter and picked just 12 different players. This consistency paid off, with six players averaging at least 40.00 with the bat (Taufeeq Umar had the lowest average of the top six with 43.21) and three bowlers under 25.00 with the ball. As good as their batting has been, it was these bowlers that have contributed most effectively, with Umar Gul (32 wickets), Abdur Rehman (35) and Saeed Ajmal (51) taking enough wickets cheaply to maximise the side’s chance of winning a Test. Although the ODI results suggest inconsistency, in truth the defeat to England was probably a blip after their scintillating Test whitewash; the thrashing of Sri Lanka and the recent Asia Cup success should really be seen as the norm for this team. It was again Ajmal who led the way with 33 wickets, supported by Shahid Afridi and the rest.
Under the relatively calm captaincy of Misbah-ul-Haq and the new coach Dav Whatmore, the priority for this team should be to continue to flourish in the short-term and maintain their steady selection policy; there should be some confidence heading to the World T20 in Sri Lanka. Meanwhile a successful home ‘series’ against Bangladesh later this month should not just be defined by a victory in both the T20 and the ODI, but also one devoid of controversy or bad news.