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WT20 2016 - Pakistan's Campaign Review

1.   Team Combination

a.     In general, team selection didn’t look up to the mark. From selection of the squad to selection of playing eleven for the matches, there were many things that could have been done in a better way.

b.     Going to India with no big turner of the ball was a mistake. There were 4 spinners in the squad (Afridi, Malik, Imad and Nawaz) but none of them is known for big turn that could have caused difficulty to opponents.

c.      In the game against Bangladesh, going with 3 left arm pacers, 1 left arm spinner and 1 right arm leg spinner against a batting line that had 3 left handers in top 4, didn’t make much sense. Considering the over all composition of the bowling attack, Pakistan should have included a right arm pacer. Had the batting not scored heavily, it might have proved costly mistake against Bangladesh as well.

d.     In the game against India Hafeez batted at number 7 after Imad. If that was part of the plan then Imad should have played in place of Hafeez who could have also been the 3rd spinner on that pitch.

e.     In game against India, decision to drop Imad made no sense. Pitch reading is always a risk and anyone can make a mistake. Dhoni misread it as well but he didn't take the unnecessary risk by going with 4 pacers. To say the least, it was not a 4 pacers pitch by any means. It looked like Pakistan was hoping the pitch to be pacer friendly rather than reading it with caution. That mistake proved costly for our campaign.

f.       In the game against New Zealand, decision to drop Wahab Riaz instead of Irfan didn’t look right. It looked a slow-ish pitch with not much pace and bounce in it and Irfan’s natural bounce made it even easier for New Zealand batsman to score off him. With his slingy action and skiddy nature of his bowling, playing Wahab on that surface would have been better as it turned out in the game against Australia.

2.   Tactical decisions – batting and bowling orders

a.     Pakistan team planning was depending heavily on toss. Won the toss only against Bangladesh and won only that match. In other matches, they picked the team anticipating them to win the toss and as soon as the toss was lost, it looked like they lost the game and don’t have any plan B to handle the situation.

b.     In general, Pakistan team looked to have gone in with predetermined and predefined plans that lacked the flexibility to change according to the environment and match situation

c.      In the match against India, Sharjeel got out at 7.4 overs and by then, everyone had realized that the pitch is not as flat and it is not suitable for Afridi’s style of play. On that pitch batsmen who play spin well like Hafeez, Malik and Sarfaraz would have done better. Instead of Afridi promoting himself to one-down, Pakistan should have stuck with Hafeez at number 3 and if the innings needed an impetus, it should have been Sarfaraz who should have been promoted up the order. He is in form as well and he scored up the order in Asia Cup as well.  

d.     In the match against Australia, Shoaib Malik should have bowled at least a couple of overs instead of Sami. Sami bowled 2nd and 5th over and went for 21 runs in 2 overs and it was clear that he was struggling with his rhythm, line and length.
On the other hand Afridi himself gave away just 27 and Imad went for 31 off his 4. Considering the situation, Afridi should have slipped in a couple of overs from Malik to give him the flexibility of not bowling Sami any more. Pakistan lost by 21 runs and Sami gave away 32 runs in his last 2 overs. Better planning could have resulted in change of result as well.

e.     In the games against New Zealand and Australia where Pakistan was facing mainly left arm spinners and leg break bowlers and our Right Handed Batsmen were struggling to play freely, it might have been worth promoting Imad Wasim up the order to either make use of those angles or force the opposition alter their plans. 

3.   Team atmosphere and Management

Multiple controversies surfaced during the tournament that could have been avoided easily. Those incidents were bound to happen negative effect on the team atmosphere, unity overall moral and focus of the players. Those incidents included:

a)     Afridi’s controversial statement about getting more love in India. The intent looked right but the delivery was disastrous. If there was a diplomatic need for Afridi to use cordial words to ease out the security threats then he should have been briefed by media management team about which words to use. It was complete failure of media management team.

b)    Unnecessary press briefing and media talk of the chairman in the middle of the tournament, especially, talking about the future of the captain and the coach. It would have had only negative effect on the captain and the coach and might have forced them to think about their own future instead of team’s performance in the tournament. It would have served only to distract the focus of the coach and captain from the tournament.

c)     Turning of Imran Khan’s meeting with the team into a public event before the crucial match against India. There was already too much media attention about the match. It would have been in the best interest of the players and the team to stay away from excessive media attention before the match.
In case there were certain reasons and benefits of Imran Khan meeting the team before the match, it should have been kept low key in the media and it should have been done with certain level of privacy.
As it turned out, video leak of the conversation between Imran Khan and Umar Akmal worked as the seed for further media reports of infighting and conspiracies within the team. This could have been avoided.

d)    Waqar’s press conference after New Zealand match was inappropriate. Pakistan was still in the tournament and being the coach he should not have said all those things in public, especially, his taunting statement on Umar Akmal was inappropriate and linked to previous point as well.

e)     On return, team shouldn’t have split and Afridi being the captain of the team should have come with the team. The fact that different players landed in different cities and received different reception is not good for Pakistan Cricket overall. At Lahore airport, players were welcomed with “shame shame” while the captain of the team was welcomed in Karachi with “Zindabad”.
This approach is going to cause serious problems within the players and should have been avoided.

4.   Overall Performance of key players

Shahid Afridi

For some reason, Afridi looked completely lost. His usual confidence was not there and looked like he is just going through the motions not really thinking on his feet and not making decisions according to the situations. Most of the time, it looked like he was just following a predetermined plan and script that was given to him before the match. For example:

-         Playing 4 pacers in Kolkata against India. Pitch reading is always a risk and anyone can make a mistake. Dhoni misread it as well but he didn't take the unnecessary risk by going with 4 pacers. To say the least, it was not a 4 pacers pitch by any means. It looked like someone designed that plan more on weather conditions and even without looking at the pitch, gave the plan to Afridi and Afridi followed it as it is.

-         Then in the same game against India, the decision of Afridi coming to bat at one-down looked a pre-determined one as well that had not taken into account the pitch and match condition which was not suitable for Afridi’s style of batting.

-         In the same game, he did not utilize himself and Malik as the strike bowlers on that pitch. He used both of them as containing bowlers which was not the right approach on that pitch. On the pitch where Ashwin had caused all sorts of problems to Sharjeel right in the 2nd over of the match, no slip was given to Malik when he came on to bowl to Yuvraj and a catch went exactly through the slips. It was again a case of misreading the game situation.

-         Similarly, against Australia, Sami bowled 2nd and 5th over and went for 21 runs in 2 overs and it was clear that he was struggling with his rhythm, line and length. On the other hand Afridi gave away 27 himself and Imad went for 31 off his 4. Considering the situation, Afridi could have slipped in a couple of overs from Malik to give him the flexibility of not bowling Sami any more, but he didn't go to Malik for an over or two as backup plan. He followed the bowling order that looked more like decided before the game not according to the match situation.


Amir is struggling in the death overs. In the first two games where Pakistan bowled second, Amir had figures of 2/24 in 4 overs and 1/11 in 3 overs. In the last two games where Pakistan bowled first Amir had the figures of 0/41 and 0/39.

More alarming is how many runs he gave away in death overs. Against New Zealand he bowled 17th and 20th overs and gave away 11 and 16 runs respectively (2-0-27-0). In the game where Pakistan lost by 22 runs, those runs turned out to be decisive.

Similarly, in the game against Australia, he again bowled 17th and 20th overs and gave away 17 and 12 runs (+2 LB) respectively (2-0-29-0).
In the games where Pakistan lost with just 22 and 21 runs respectively, Amir leaking 16 and 14 runs in the last overs is a key area of improvement. He is struggling in death overs of first innings and this should be analyzed and addressed.


Sarfaraz has been under-utilized throughout the tournament especially in the game against India where the pitch and conditions suited his style of batting. He was in form and had good scores in Asia Cup, he could have been used better in the middle overs especially to rotate the strike rate and take singles and doubles.

Shoaib Malik

Shoaib Malik’s role in the team needs to be reviewed.

Although he is scoring runs but the lack of his utilization in bowling is causing serious problems with the balance of the team. Especially with M Hafeez not available to bowl, Pakistan needs to get one more all-rounder in Imad or Nawaz in the playing eleven to give it the balance, stability and flexibility.

Malik bowled only 4 overs in the tournament and didn’t bowl a single over against New Zealand and Australia.

Ahmad Shahzad

Ahmad Shahzad played a good comeback innings but he is still struggling to pace his innings.

In all four games, he threw his wicket away and more so because he looked to have run out of ideas to handle the situation.

Although he scored against Bangladesh but against India he had no clue how to deal with that pitch and bowling. Similarly, against New Zealand he played seriously strange innings where he failed to keep the momentum going even after Sharjeel’s start. Against Australia, he picked the wrong place and wrong shot.

It looks like he is either making wrong plans to pace his innings or the role he is being given or explained to him is not right. In either case, he needs to be worked upon.

From technique perspective, he got out to same shot in 2 matches, the new helicopter shot. He is playing it with wrong technique. He should be asked to stop playing it right away or improve it.  

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