Pakistan team management looks confused

By Mohsin Khan
Mohsin Khan, former Test opening batsman and later the head coach of Pakistan team, has been a vocal critic of the national team and it’s tactics for many months now. He spoke exclusively to, about his feelings on Pakistan’s 76-run loss to arch-rivals India at the 2015 World Cup, the issues in the selection of the squad, the visible lack of planning and excessive experimentation with the line-up, and also looked forward to Pakistan’s chances in the remainder of the tournament. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Full coverage

It would be fair to say that I am very disappointed with the outcome of the game against India. I feel that we had a team which was capable of beating India who aren’t in that great a touch but our lack of planning let us down. I am unable to understand why, when we knew that Saeed Ajmal would not be a viable option for the World Cup months in advance, did we not choose amongst some of the best spin talent we had available in the country in the shape of Zulfiqar Babar and Abdul Rehman to name a few? This is why we are now searching for part-timers to fill Ajmal’s role in the current squad and we have seen the results.

I can only feel sorry for Younis Khan at the way he was put in the position as an opener. As it is, he has been struggling and it was obvious that chances of his failure in that position were very high. That’s exactly what happened. On top of that, to put him into bat at a position which should be occupied by a specialist is plain wrong. When you fly-in a specialist, Nasir Jamshed, for the role of an opener and not play him, then all that tells me is that there is confusion in the minds of the team management which doesn’t augur well for the future. Even from the time we played against Sri Lanka in the summer to the time we played against New Zealand, we seem to have no idea who the openers should be, so this isn’t a new problem!

I have been saying this for months and will repeat again that we have to use specialists for these positions. We have Sarfraz Ahmed in the squad. This is the person we said was not only a good ‘keeper but we also branded him not too long ago as our third opener. But in the World Cup we are making him sit out and have instead given the gloves to a part-timer. So from using part-time bowlers in the mix, we also have a part time ‘keeper! Wicket-keeping is a specialist position and you don’t throw in part-timers at international level as the success ratio is not very good when you do this.

The game plan above all is the most important aspect for any team. In fact, you have to have plan A and plan B and so on which you can implement at the time of batting or bowling. They just cannot decide on a plan of action and in my view, the team management is unable to understand how to build a team combination and what are the components of the team and are confused about the right combination. They seem to be struggling to decide on who should be opening and who should be in the middle order etc. You have already got a problem where Umar Gul and Junaid Khan have been rendered unfit due to misuse. I also fear for Mohammad Irfan who needs to be handled with extreme care. We have a situation where he is bowling all of his overs in the game due to a lack of support and we saw in the game against India, that he was struggling. It is obvious that when you walk into a game with this kind of planning then even India, who are not the favourites for this World Cup, will be a tough proposition for you as was the case today.

Frankly speaking, although we had a good performance by Sohail Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, I see no real positives coming out of Pakistan’s loss against India. What needs to happen now is that the game plan for batting and bowling needs to be revised as without a coherent strategy, not even 11 superstars will win you any game. Having said that, my best wishes are for Pakistan and I can only hope that we will succeed.

(As told to Amir Husain)

(Mohsin Khan is a former Pakistan opening batsman who played 48 Tests and 75 One-Day Internationals)