Out of 8 wins in the year, 5 came against an under strength Zimbabwe, 1 against Hong Kong, and one against Afghanistan (just about). It was that kind of year for Pakistan. 2017, proved to be in a way flash in this awful pan. Pakistan returned to being a side better than minnows but miles adrift from top 6.
In New Zealand, away they failed to find a combination which could threaten the kiwis, going to lose 5-0. Pakistan’s batting struggled to put a challenge in away conditions and the bowlers were largely unable to make up for it. Sarfraz 11 were under real pressure for the 1st time and had no answers. After a fairly long hiatus they faced a depleted Zimbabwe in a 5 match series. Fakhar Zaman and Imam ul Haq feasted on their weak bowling attack, leading Pakistan to a comfortable white wash.
Asia Cup returned to the 50 over format and Pakistan’s woes continued. It was built as a follow up to Pakistan vs. India Champion Trophy Final. However, a lopsided Pakistan team was walloped in both games. A win against Hong Kong and a last over scarp against Afghanistan was as good as it got for Pakistan as Bangladesh thumped them out of the tournament.
The New Zealand series, Pakistan turned a new leaf, well just about. They dominated New Zealand for the most innings for about 40 overs picking up wickets, but let the lower order get away. Trent Boult, blew away the top order with a hat trick and Pakistan never came back. However, in the 2nd ODI on the back of a four wicket haul for young Shaheen Afridi, they beat New Zealand easily. They looked destined to win the series against this strong New Zealand series before rain intervened. A series win against New Zealand might have changed the mood of the ODI side but it wasn’t to be. Fakhar Zaman was the highest scorer of the year with 875 runs at an average of 67.30. However, most runs did come against weaker opposition. With the ball, Shadab Khan excelled with 23 in 17 games.
While, the team management has been able to fit the key performers in T20 cricket, they are still trying to figure a way out for them in ODIs. In T20s Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali were all match winners. However, in ODIs they struggled to up stage decent opposition. With a World Cup looming and Pakistan facing up to South Africa, Australia and England in ODIs, team management would have their work cut out. Pakistan could lose all these series and go under a new captain in the World Cup and win it. Or they could have win these series and crash out of the World Cup at the earliest. You just don’t know with Pakistan, do you.