Friday Nov 01, 2019 | By: Zohaib Ahmed Majeed
Because 99.9 per cent of the times Pakistan fall flat on their faces in Australia, it’s fairly logical to think they’d be down and out Down Under this time as well. Especially when the twin rosters sent this time have six debutants, four teenagers and a bunch of others who haven’t played at the highest level in years.
The squad composition whispers rhetoric like “faith in youngsters” and “we’re young and confident” yada yada, But if you happen to be listening closely it could also scream real talk like “we’ve already thrown in the towel” and “there is no hope”.
Factor in the recent shellacking received at the hands of Sri Lanka, which itself received a shellacking at the home of their inhospitable hosts, and the pessimism makes total sense.
Don’t forget the rookie leadership angle as well.
So on paper, perception and everything, this young, inexperienced, helpless and hapless Pakistan side should not and does not logically stand a chance against the mighty Aussies in Australialand — even without Glenn Maxwell.
But sometimes there are multiple versions of logic, which take different routes and manifest into something different. So here’s another version of logic, which of course would make total sense now but won’t in hindsight, if Australia do to us what they did to Sri Lanka.
Pakistan have an inferior head-to-head record against Australia in all formats but one: T20Is. And guess what? The series that starts tomorrow is a T20I series.
Of the 20 times these two have faced each other in T20Is, Pakistan have won 13 and Australia just seven, giving the presently weak and meek looking tourists a whopping win percentage of 65 against the Men in Yellow.
Feel a little better now?
Some more nuggets for your pleasure: Pakistan are riding a five-match winning streak in T20Is against Australia. Just last year when Australia paid Pakistan a visit at their now abandoned home away from home in Abu Dhabi, the Aussies were spanked by 66 runs in one of the T20Is. It was a weak Aussie line-up but getting all-out for a grand total of 89 on a UAE track is no excuse.
On Australian soil these two have played just a single T20I. This was way back in 2010 and Australia were the winners, albeit only by the skin of their teeth. Had Umar Akmal kept his cool in the final over, that two-run defeat would have also been a win.
Then take a look at the line-up that dominated a Cricket Australia XI on Thursday. Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan (has two ODI centuries against Australia), Asif Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz.
Apart from Khushdil, which player looks out of place for the format? The inexperience may have been overplayed a little because the roster has enough to cobble together an XI of people who know what they’re doing. Any youth would only be sprinkled rather than mixed. When put that way, the situation doesn’t sound as hopeless. The Qadirs and Musas probably won’t be seen front and centre, and with their roles limited and managed, the team actually is not half bad.
The bottom line is that this team crumbles when not expected and crushes when not expected. They’ve done the former. Could it be time for the latter?
Disclaimer: The dose of optimism in this piece applies only to T20Is. In Tests, God help us.