ISLAMABAD - Pakistan cricket team maintained their legacy of losing matches when it matters most. Dropped catches, poor umpiring and pathetic team selection cost green caps Asia Cup title as they were comprehensively beaten by Sri Lanka in the final.
Majority of Asia Cup defeat lies on the shoulders of team management who despite being fully aware of some harsh and biter realities opted to include players of their liking instead of putting the pride of the country ahead. PCB Management Committee Chairman Najam Sethi is equally responsible for the defeat as he gave untimely, unwanted and totally uncalled for statement describing Pakistan cricket team's excellent results due to his significant changes in the board, which in reality had nothing to do with Sethi or anyone else. It was sheer superb performances of few certain individuals, which helped green caps making it to the final.
Sharjeel Khan was a big flop in the entire event but selectors somehow reasons best known to them keep faith in his extraordinary abilities and include him by dropping Sohaib Maqsood. Sohaib was very unlucky to be given out caught behind against hosts Bangladesh despite the replays clearly showed ball was away from his bat. Who is going to tell selectors a very simple thing that limited overs cricket is not about specialist batsman or bowler. It is about having all-rounders in the team, who could turn the entire situation of the match with their abilities.
Anwar Ali is arguably the most unlucky player, who despite having tremendous abilities, can't manage to break his way into the playing XI. He was the perfect answer to Pakistani batting and bowling woes. Talha was given a rough treatment by the minnows Bangladeshi batsmen but selectors still kept faith in his abilities and didn't even think about replacing Talha with Anwar or Bilawal Bahtti.
Hafeez had opened the innings in the last match and made a fifty. What was the reason of including Sharjeel when Hafeez should have batted top the order. It could have paved the way for Anwar but Moin Khan seems to have some issues with the talented lad. Anwar is not Sarfraz Ahmed, who enjoys Moin's blessings otherwise it was Anwar, who not only should have played the final, but all the matches in the event.
Misbah had done the right thing by winning the toss and electing to bat first. It was the top order, which let the team and the entire nation down. Sharjeel, Ahmed Shazad and Hafeez just gifted their wickets to their nemeses Malinga. It was by no means exceptional Malinga bowling. Instead it was poor shot selection of the batsmen which allowed Malings to dictate the terms in the early part of the Pakistan batting. But he was shown the mirror by new born Fawad Alam and sensational Umar Akmal, who batted with lot of authority and hit not only Malinga but all the Lankan bowlers at will. Past greats were describing Mendis as the danger man but they completely forget the Malinga factor. Mattews doesn't even considered Mendis for the final. It was time and again suggested that Pakistani batsmen should bat carefully to Malinga and doesn't give him early wickets but batsmen don't pay any heed and continue to throw away wickets.
Misbah and Fawad batted with lot of maturity and it was the 4th wicket 122 runs stand, which gave respectability to team total. Misbah batted superbly but it was once again Fawad, who showed selectors what they have missed in the past by dropping him, played his heart out and he was ably supported by Akmal, who played with lot of courage and authority.
Pakistan could have won the final with quite a margin but butterfingers cost them dearly and their cause was made further difficult by the poor umpiring. Jayawardene was plump LBW on the bowling of Afridi but umpire decided against it. Akmal missed couple of caught behind chances. Akmal is being wasted by continuing to utilise his services as part time wicket keeper. Kamran Akmal should have been included in the side but it would block blue-eyed persons’ chances of making it to the playing XI.
Saeed Ajmal as usual was at the peak of his bowling but none of the bowlers could lend him a much-needed support. Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Talha and even Afridi failed to make any impression, Hafeez bowled well but he failed to provide breakthroughs, which could have turn the entire situation of the final.
Centurion Thirimanne and Jaywerdene’s 156 runs third wicket stand proved to be the difference between both the teams. Ajmal had provided million dollar breakthrough by removing dangerous Sangakkara without scoring but Jayawerdene made the difference with the support of poor umpiring, Pakistan team had to suffer at the hands of umpires in all the matches. The ICC doesn't bother to take notice of injustice done to men in green. It is the national and moral duty of PCB chairman to take the umpiring issue with the ICC and ensure such things should not be repeated again.