It was extremely painful to watch Pakistani team play during both the ODI matches in New Zealand. Not because of the fact that they were totally outplayed by New Zealand in all the departments of the game but how inflexible our team was on the tour.
Here is a look at the three types of inflexibility Pakistan team showed during the New Zealand tour. The inflexibility with the squad, the inflexibility with the batting order and inflexibility of playing according to the situation.
True, we have problems finding our best XI and we may lack experience in the bowling department but common sense tells us that to find your best XI you need to experiment and you need to give everyone a chance.
Pakistan played the same team in both the ODI matches. Even though we lost the 1st ODI match we didn't even bring in a single player during the second ODI matches and played the same team. Just imagine if during the World Cup one of our players gets injured? The other player who will come in place of him will have to play in alien conditions without any confidence or prior experience.
Don't go far and look at New Zealand for example. They won the first match and made 4 changes in the second match so all their 15 member squad gets to play against Pakistan and confident, in form and have some match experience before such a big tournament.
By the looks of it our management has decided the XI they want to play in the first match vs India and are persisting with it, it would have been a good strategy if we had good bench strength who had some experience but in this case most of our players are touring Australia and New Zealand for the first time and few of them haven't got much experience of playing international Cricket.
Just imagine Yasir Shah or Sohail Khan or even Sohaib Maqsood having to fill in for an experienced player like Shahid Afridi or Wahab Riaz or Younis Khan during a knockout match later on in the tournament, how much pressure they will be under and how will it hamper their performance. Our team management should have kept these factors in mind.
It would have been a good chance for everyone to get some idea of the New Zealand conditions since we will play 3 of our 6 group matches in New Zealand.
The second and more disheartening thing to see was how inflexible our team was during the 2nd ODI match while chasing a big target.
Pakistan were off too a decent start against New Zealand scoring 111 for the first wicket in 20.2 overs. We had a good platform to launch the attack and try to chase the target but the next batsman in was Younis Khan. No wonder Younis Khan is the most experienced batsman in the team but at such a crucial stage of the match when we required almost 9 runs per over there was no sense in sending Younis Khan at number 3.
Okay it can be argued that he is out of form and needed some time in the middle. But even when he got out later after scoring 11 runs, the next batsman to come in was Misbah ul Haq who also takes time to settle in and the starts playing.
We had power hitters like Shahid Afridi (who by chance has been in a good form), Umar Akmal and Sarfaraz Ahamd left, who should have been sent up the order to chase the target and capitalize on the good start provided by the openers. By the time Muhammad Hafeez lost his wicket in the 31th over, Pakistan needed 200 runs in 20 overs at that time. That is too much to ask from our power hitters.
Had we been more flexible with our batting order, gave the likes of Afridi and Umar Akmal chance to settle in the match could have been close, or at least we would have looked like chasing the target which at no stage looked like was our intention.
The third type of inflexibility was the way our batsmen constructed the inning. It was shocking to see Muhammad Hafeez playing as if we were chasing 250, with leaving the balls outside off, not trying to take any risk. By the time he hit his first boundary in the 12th over, which was a top edge six he was 15* (36) balls. Same was the case when Younis Khan and Misbah ul Haq came in to bat, but we can't blame them since they have always played like this but imagine us chasing another 300+ target during a crush match in the World Cup. Will we be able to play flexibly?
Since the comparisons with the 1992 World Cup are ongoing. Even in the 1992 World Cup, Imran Khan chopped and changed his side through out the tournament. Plying with two spinners. Playing an extra batsman, playing with 3 openers to tackle the new ball. Playing Inzamam ul Haq at different positions, even sending him and Wasim above Salim Malik during the final and who can forget he himself coming at number 3 in the World Cup final.
If Pakistan are to put up a good show during the World Cup they will have to be flexible, play according to the situation and the opponent instead of playing the way they always do, playing our own way hasn't won us anything in UAE (Pakistan has just won 1 out of 9 series played in the UAE previously) so winning the World Cup will be a lot more tougher.
Good luck team Pakistan, all the prayers and good wishes are with you.