Ever since Shaheen Shah Afridi had been fast-tracked to Pakistan cricket team, he was soaring high. As Mohammad Amir struggled, Hasan Ali lost form and Rumman Raaes battled fitness issues, Shaheen Afridi was picking up wicket up front. Yet, when he came up against the English bullies in the series in May, he had few answers. He still got some wickets but was super expensive. Against Australia in the World Cup, he let the initiative going. But the downward trend didn’t last long. Bowling Coach Azhar Mahmood in an interview said that it was important that Shaheen controls his emotions when he bowls.
After he had bagged Tamim Iqbal’s wicket, Bangladesh took the conservative approach to a degree. When Sarfaraz brought him back, it was to break a threatening partnership. That just what Shaheen did, with a slower one which sat in the wicket a little bit. Five more wickets later, Shaheen had bowled Pakistan to a comprehensive win.
Not as comprehensive as they needed to qualify for the semi-final but good enough to show that Pakistan was the 5th best team in the tournament. More importantly, the performers in the match showed that Pakistan was heading in the right direction. Shaheen, Babar, Imam, all three young stars are not in the prime of their careers. Yet they are good enough to win matches for Pakistan.
Some credit must go for this goes to Sarfaraz, Mickey Arthur, Grant Flower, and Azhar Mahmood. They erred on the side of caution in the early part of the World Cup, backed their seniors. But at the end, it was the ‘non-experienced’ lot that helped them win 4 games on the trot if we add Imad Wasim and Haris Sohail to the list. Pakistan’s talent line had stopped partially during the mid-2010s, but since Mickey and Sarfaraz have taken over most of their experiments have worked.
It is time the board showed nerve and back this relatively successful team at least till the World T20 next year.