The Bengal tigers completely annihilated Pakistan in the second One-day International to win the series. They will be going into the third match with elevated confidence levels and with the intention of rubbing salt to the wounds of Pakistan by completing a whitewash. While we continue finding flaws in our line-up and a possible scapegoat, not many will accept the fact that Bangladesh was indeed the better team. At the end of the day, we find ourselves scratching our heads in disbelief and repeatedly asking ourselves what went wrong.

Inexperienced squad

Pakistan fielded a relatively inexperienced squad as compared to the Bangladesh eleven. Pakistan had a handful of senior players, out of which one is banned from bowling and one who is settling in with a completely different action. On the contrary, Bangladesh had a seasoned skipper in Mashrafe Mortaza, two former captains and a former vice-captain. The experience was put to good use by Mortaza during the second match when Haris Sohail and Saad Nasim were looking to form a dangerous partnership, he took the responsibility on his own shoulders and got the crucial break-through for Bangladesh. The Pakistan side is a blend of young emotions with several players new to the International circuit. The loss might be a bitter pill to swallow, but positives include the discovery of Muhammad Rizwan and Saad Nasim. Both batsmen batted with responsibility during the first and second match respectively, saving Pakistan from what could have been a much more embarrassing position.

Lack of fan support

Pakistan fans and media have always viewed cricket with pessimism. It does not take long for our people to place the "fixed" label on all our losses. Players had received strong criticism even before they were handed their first caps. Saad Nasim had a forgettable debut and the senior players were quick to pounce on him and offer suggestions of replacing him with Asad Shafiq. During the second match, Saad played the innings of his life to provide Pakistan with a respectable total. Provided that these players are given regular opportunities and playing time, every youngster has the ability to justify his selection. Before the tour, newly appointed captain, Azhar Ali, was deemed incapable of leading the side, but the first two matches have provided us with glimpses of Misbah-ul-Haq and he has shown that can be Pakistan's new Mr. Dependable.

Injuries

Pakistan was already at a disadvantage before the series had even started as they had to deal with a long list of injuries. Pakistan lost an experienced player in Sohail Khan who had performed considerably well during the World Cup. After the retirement of Shahid Afridi, Pakistan was not left with much choice in the leg-spin department with Yasir Shah being the only option. He injured himself during the practice match and got three stitches on his thumb. Pakistan also lost Ehsan Adil, who, after playing the last two World Cup matches, was starting to create a mark for himself in the team. The biggest blow came in the form of Sohaib Maqsood who has been a rock-solid midde-order batsman for Pakistan, in the past. Although one could argue that the replacements were announced and sent in without any delays, injuries seem to create a negative psychological impact in the dugout that does create problems. 

 

Comeback players

When the squad was announced, Pakistan team fans took a sigh of relief upon hearing the names of Muhammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan. These players are known for adding stability to the line-up and bolstering the attack of Pakistan. However, much to the disappointment of Pakistani fans, none of the three players have lived up to the expectations.

Junaid Khan was seen struggling to get into the rythm with which he bowls. He leaked away runs at a considerably high economy rate, but that is acceptable for attacking bowlers as long as they keep providing the team with important breakthroughs which Junaid could not. Saeed Ajmal seemed a completely different player with his new action. After initially playing out his overs with respect, the Bengal tigers picked his line, length and ineffective variations. What followed was disappointing for not just fans of Pakistan, but for cricket fans all over the globe.

Muhammad Hafeez, after scoring a decent knock in the practice match, was expected to add balance to the side. However, during both the matches, Hafeez seemed vulnerable and got out in a lazy fashion. There are no doubts regarding the ability of these players. They are indeed match-winners and are fully capable of inflicting damage on to the opposition. However, with young blood knocking on the doors of International cricket, these players will have to play cricket with the same passion and intensity in order to maintain their positions and help Pakistan get back to winning ways.

Bangladeshi mentality

Ten out of ten to Bangladesh in all the three departments. Bangladesh completely outclassed Pakistan and expanded on their impressive World Cup campaign by defeating Pakistan for the first time in 16 years, and then going on to claim their first ever series win against Pakistan. Bangladesh truly played with their heart and soul, and showed that they wanted to win. Bangladesh, for the past few months, have tried to set new precedents in International cricket for themselves and can no longer be considered an easy opposition. Pakistan seemed to have no answer to Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim in both the matches and Shakib's late heroics were too much for Pakistan to handle. Whether it is the change in the management or an influence of the new captain, things are surely looking good for Bangladesh cricket. 

The series defeat to Bangladesh has proved to be valuable for Pakistan. Pakistan should look towards winning the third and final match of the series and, in the process, trying all possible combinations and giving opportunities to youngsters. Meanwhile, the Pakistan media and self-acclaimed analysts should back the national team and strictly avoid comparisons. With the best players representing the green flag, Pakistan have a decent chance of regaining lost pride. It is a long tour.