Some silly, poignant and exceptional moments summed up a less riveting and more unpredictable 2013 for Pakistan cricket whereas the world sees many breakthroughs in sports arena, departures of legends amid high drama of cheats among sporting elites.

Pakistan cricket offered another year of high drama, suspense and uncertainty. Some silly, poignant and exceptional moments summed up a less riveting and more unpredictable 2013 to the fans. There was nothing rosy either on the field or off the field. The uncertainty kept engulfing not only the performance of the team but also within the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). The war to hold the PCB affairs went to the court and a decision is reserved, upon which the fate of Pakistan cricket would be decided.

There was nothing much of buoyance or rosy for Pakistan as what promised to be a year of resurgence for the cricketing fortunes of the country found itself in another downward spiral. The PCB affairs remained in the hands of incapable persons and game continued to suffer. Pakistan now has a cricket chief ,which is more media-driven and obsessed with the role of proving himself ambassador or even foreign minister than understanding and managing a cricketing body and game.

In a year which was supposed to be a transitional year for the team with its ageing stars fading and two mega ICC events (World Cup T20 and World Cup 2015) are due in next couple of years, the struggle of holding power at the helm of the PCB affairs remained the main focus. The result is ominous one: the team’s fortune remained at stake as PCB’s ship remained unsteady and unsettled and there is only a sinking feeling for the fans.

Pakistan started the year on back of a redemptive 2012 when Pakistan notched up a spectacular Test triumph against England in the UAE, bagging the Asia Cup title in ODIs, and earning a creditable semi-final finish in the World Twenty20. Of equal if not greater significance: the team also managed to steer clear of the kind of controversies and scandals that bedeviled them between 2006 and 2010.

But Pakistan failed to rise themselves from this solid foundation and every opportunity for them to shine turned into a pitfall and a cloud of stigma and uncertainty still hangs overhead. It was mainly due to inefficiency of the board and their selectors as they remained focus on short-term goals rather than taking some sensible measures to keep the affairs on right track. The problems remained the same. The wicket-keeping position remains unsettled, the batting top order continues to be brittle, the pace battery remained in need of charging.

Despite these hurdles and many ups and downs, Pakistan maintained to finish on the ranking tables same as they were at the end of the previous year. Pakistan are finishing the year in Tests as fourth ranked team with 102 rating points and sixth in the ODIs with 101 rating points, while in T20s Pakistan finished on fourth spot with 121 ranking points.

A pathetic Test performance:

Pakistan suffered a miserable Test year in which they even failed to win series against Zimbabwe. Pakistan played three series in all losing one and drawing two. Pakistan, who were enjoying the best win-loss ratio in the Tests since 2010 in the world, hit new depths as they won two Tests and lost five in the year. They lost the away series against South Africa, when Proteas hammered them 3-0. Then came the lowest point for Pakistan cricket fortunes in series against Zimbabwe. Pakistan fans remained baffled as they saw Zimbabwe winning the second Test, in Harare, in September: it was their Zimbabweans first victory over a major Test side since 2001, when they beat India at the same venue.

The team once again showed the resurgence in home series against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates when they outclassed the world’s top Test team in the first Test. But they could not hold on to the advantage and were comprehensively by the Proteas in the second Test and the two-match Test series ended in a 1-1 draw.

The batsmen were as usual the main culprits for the dwindling fortunes of the team on Test arena. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq remained the top run-getter for Pakistan in Tests with 570 runs in with an average of 47.50 hitting one century and five 50-plus scores. Yonus Khan played the highest individual innings of 200 (not out) runs for Pakistan against Zimbabwe in Harare. The dismal performance of Pakistan’s batsmen can be noted from the fact that spin wizard Saeed Ajmal is sixth highest run-getter for the team with 149 runs. Ajmal also topped the bowling charts by claiming 37 wickets in seven Tests with an average of 24.72.

Riveting and unpredictable

limited over  performance:

Like an enticing chocolate box offering an exquisite array of pralines, truffles, fudge and liqueurs, Pakistan one-day squad gave its fans just about everything they might have wanted during a riveting and unpredictable 2013. They lost the winners unceremoniously and clinched the lost-ones spectacularly. Pakistan, who lost all three ODI bilateral series in the previous year, ended their duck upon arch-rival India by beating them 2-1 at their own backyard just before and the start of the year.

In all Pakistan were involved in eight bilateral ODI series and won six of them, while the ninth series against Sri Lanka was underway till the filing of this review. Despite winning six out of eight, the win-loss ratio is not as impressive as Pakistan won 14 matches lost the same numbers while three ended in no-result. The lowest point for Pakistan in the one-dayers was when the bowed out of the final and last edition of the ICC Champions Trophy by losing all the three matches. The success of Pakistan in the one-dayers was mainly due to their bowlers as Batsmen kept on struggling and often failed to capitalise on the good work done by their bowlers and kept gifting their wickets to their opponents. Pakistan lost to South Africa in South Africa 3-2 and in UAE 4-1, but the highest point for team also came against the same opponents when they defeated them in a hastily-arranged ODI series in South Africa 2-1, a feat many cricketing nations yet to achieve.

The unpredictability remained both in the manner of losing and winning the matches and even Ireland gave Pakistan a huge scare before going down fighting. Pakistan’s other series victories came against Scotland (1-0), Ireland (1-0), West Indies (3-1) and Zimbabwe (2-1).

It was a memorable year for Misbah-ul-Haq, the most criticised figure in the team for his defensive captaincy and slow batting, who mustered highest ODI runs in the calendar year and also broke the record of scoring most 50s (14) in a calendar year. Saeed Ajmal remained the lethal weapon for Pakistan who is not only the top wicket-taker in the calendar year with 53 wickets, but also finished the year at the summit of the ODI bowling ranking chart.

In Twenty20s, Pakistan won four series, lost won while two ended in draw. Overall Pakistan played 13 T20s, winning wight losing four while one ended in no-result. The main performer with the willow was Ahmed Shahzad who accumulated 347 runs in 12 matches while T20 captain M Hafeez was the major wicket taker with 12 wickets.

PCB changes patron:

Pakistan Cricket Board, which previously has President of Pakistan as its patron-in-chief, now has Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as its patron-in-chief. The step was taken in the wake of ongoing court battle for holding the PCB chief’s office. The Islamabad High Court has also mentioned in its previous order that the president is no more patron of the PCB after passage of the 18th Amendment.

Now the five-member ad hoc committee consisting PCB caretaker chairman Najam Sethi, former PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan and ex-Pakistan team manager Naveed Akram Cheema and former Test cricketers Zaheer Abbas and Haroon Rasheed, is at the helm of the affairs but it’s Sethi who is running the affairs under the IMC cushion. Earlier, Zaka Ashraf was shown the door by the IHC, who tried to hold the office of the PCB chief for longer term by conducting elections under dubious circumstances. Sethi was appointed as interim PCB chief by the government on the directives of the court but soon the court clipped his wings by limiting his roles and asking him to hold elections within 90 days. The court’s decision is reserved on cases related to the PCB affairs and till then the fate of the Sethi-led IMC is hanging by a thread.

Sethi, who is a veteran media personality and still serving as an anchor on a channel, is yet to prove his credentials for the given job. So far he is going with the bandwagon and is more driven by the cricketing analysts appearing on different media and has failed to bring any calm or stability in Pakistan camp. Instead, his unwanted comments have caused unnecessary troubles for some players. He is more focused on cricketing-diplomacy than the management.

Off the field:

Controversies and Pakistan cricket seemed the two sides of a same coin as despite having no player in the Indian Premier league, the name of Pakistan cricket was associated with the scandal when doubts were raised against Umpire Asad Rauf. Though allegations have yet to be proven, the International Cricket Council found the allegations as enough proof to remove Rauf from the elite umpires panel.

Pakistan’s Umar Gul though remained sidelined for the most of the year but his memorable T20 performance against South Africa (5-6) in T20 was acknowledged by the ICC when he scooped the ICC T20 performance of the year award. Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq and spin maestro Saeed Ajmal also made their way in the ICC ODI team of the year.

Another moment for Pakistanis to cherish came when former captain and fast bowler Waqar Younis was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame.