BEING A PAKISTANI CRICKET FAN IN T20 FORMAT
The year 2015 ended with Pakistan losing a t20 series to England and that too ensured that Shahid Afridi holds the worst ever T20 record as a captain of Pakistan cricket team in this format. However in Pakistani cricket system it has always been a lot easier to blame the man who is in charge. Looking back at the history of T20 cricket in Pakistan it seems that it is divided in to two parts i.e. 2007 to 2012 and from 2012 onwards.
Prior to 2012 cricket world cup which took place in Srilanka, Pakistan could claim to be the best team among the top 8 nations playing the game at the highest level. Their record speaks highly of their performance as they had won 22 games while losing only 7 against the top 8, moreover they managed to reach the semifinals of each T20 world cup held till 2012.
The success in T20 cricket for Pakistan holds some fine reasons. Men in green had a league of players already playing the shortest format of the game at domestic level. But the vital reasons for their successes were due to their strong and finest bowling unit. Led by Umar Gul and Afridi who both were highly suitable for this brand of cricket. Later in 2009 with the emergence of Saeed Ajmal and Amir, Pakistan had a world class bowling attack in the game.
With such strong bowling unit and a reasonably better batting line Pakistan managed to clinch the world title in 2009 outclassing Srilanka at Lords. Pakistan handsomely maintained the no.1 spot in this format for more than 13 months which is most by any team.
After being the semifinalist in 2012 T20 world cup Pakistan’s record speaks for itself. They have to face 8 more defeats than wins against the top 8 teams in this format and they are currently ranked 7 in the world. The reasons for their demise are not alien to the cricket fans and the cricketing fraternity. Pakistan’s batting has underperformed and their numbers have stagnated. Whereas T20 batting has generally improved among the other playing nations as they have adopted and put the T20 resources to better use. Familiarity with this format has also played a vital role as players from different countries are participating in T20 leagues being played around the globe.
Moreover just by blaming the failure of batting unit is no solution. Pakistan’s demise in T20 cricket or in any other format is because they have failed as a unit. Until the World T20 in 2012 their bowlers had an economy rate of 6.21 in the limited over format. Since then, the figures are consistently hovering around 7.5. Even the captain Shahid Afridi who had established himself as the finest spin bowler in the game had the average of 15.2 and the economy rate just under 6, but in this decade his figures have declined and he bowled with an average of 28.9 and the economy rate just over 7.
But there are little signs of recovery though with the emergence of some young talent with the likes of Babar Azam, Sarfaraz Ahmed and the return of Muhammad Amir. However the question still remains that will it be enough for Pakistan cricket in the new era of T20 cricket? I believe the coming few months will provide us with the answer.