Mercurial. Pathetic. Inconsistent. Just some of the adjectives being used to describe Pakistan’s performance at the Cricket World Cup. And that’s just from a few posts on our forum.
Particularly galling for Pakistan fans was the way in which they succumbed to a 110-run defeat at the hands of New Zealand, which followed a win over Canada and an impressive 11-run success against Sri Lanka.
Ross Taylor played a blinder, smashing 131 not out in 124 balls but he had been gifted two birthday presents when wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal dropped him twice when he had yet to reach double figures.
At the highest level, teams cannot afford to carry players whose skill in one discipline is not up to scratch and increasingly, Akmal’s glovework is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Pakistan have, in the last year used five wicket-keepers – Kamran, his brothers Umar and Adnan as well as Zulqarnain Haider and Sarfraz Ahmed, but for the moment, Kamran appears to be the man in favour, if not the man in form.
If he was performing with the bat then he might be forgiven a few fumbles but, like Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad at the top of the order, is having a bad tournament.
There are only so many times that experienced hands Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan can get their side out of trouble.
The role of Abdul Razzaq in the side has also been questioned in some quarters. Not seen as quick enough to open the bowling, and nor, if Taylor’s assault is anything to go by, an option at the end of an innings, is he wasted at number eight in the order?
He was the only player who showed much resilience with the bat against New Zealand although Pakistan will point to innings he has played against England and South Africa in recent memory where coming in low down he turned matches around in style.
That can’t happen every game and although captain Shahid Afridi has been impressive with the ball, he too is struggling with the bat. Might he too benefit from moving down the order.
Perhaps a solution might be to shift Abdul Razzaq up the order to number three, replacing one of the misfiring openers – probably Shahzad given that Hafeez is a handy off-spin option – and bring in another bowler?
We must not forget that is still a team in transition, following the loss of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir to suspension and the non-selection of Mohammad Yousuf, but, as seems so often to be the case with Pakistan, there are more questions than answers following their latest performance.
Do you have any answers? Will they confound their critics by bouncing back to even go as far as the final? Or will they run out of luck and crash out at the quarter-final stage?