Open with Sohail, bring back Sarfaraz – Asif Mujtaba

Hello and welcome to another session with Asif Mujtaba. Thanks for all the appreciation and feedback on our previous session. We are delighted to see the response and interest. Should you have any questions for Asif Mujtaba, do let us know and we will include it in our next session.

Asif bhai, first things first, a new World Cup, a new game but the same old story: lost against India, yet again. 6-0 it is now! Is it just a number or should we really see a pattern and reason behind it?

It is just a coincidence. No reason behind it.

What you consider as the prime factor of failure against India – talent, planning, intent, maturity or ability to manage the pressure?

Ability is there but the players were not prepared to understand, maintain and sustain the pressure of the game. Pakistan team had a game plan but unfortunately it just didn’t work out.

There was not much wrong with the team selection. But having a non-regular Wicket Keeper was never a good idea. For me that dropped catch by Umar Akmal was the turning point in the game. Pakistan shouldn’t have compromised over Wicket Keeper’s position. Then, we should have opened with Haris Sohail instead of Younis Khan.

In the first innings, Irfan kept on running into the restricted area on the pitch that might have also helped Indian Spinners in extracting the turn in the second innings that resulted in them applying the pressure by drying up the runs and eventually got back into the game by taking those quick wickets. We were doing fine till then and I felt it was over when those 3 wickets fell in quick succession.

What about allegations of Match Fixing and grouping in the team?

It is nothing new to Pakistan Cricket.  Whenever Pakistan loses, especially against India, these allegations always surface. With due respect to all the experts who alleges the team, they don’t look at Pakistan’s game plan. If it doesn’t work, then they point fingers at the team and players and if it works, everything goes under the carpet.
I don’t think the game was fixed. It is very easy to accuse players of match fixing without any evidence. But I don’t think that was the case there.

Here’s a question from one of our readers – Muhammad Aftab: How is the atmosphere of the dressing room, usually, during Pakistan and India Match?

Always a bit tense but it is never like what people generally think.

What about the tournament in general, till now? You said in the last session that you don’t expect 300+ scores but 300 has been the par score in first round and Ireland even chased it down as well J Did it surprise you?

Yes I was not expecting that we can see 300 plus in beginning of the tournament, but it is good for spectators.

Do you think our bowling can restrict teams under 300 runs?
Yes, definitely. Keep in mind that Indian batsmen played really well and I don’t think bowlers bowled badly at all. Do you think even if we had Ajmal and Hafeez we could have restricted India under 250?  Certainly not. 250 runs is still a good score in ODIs. We shouldn’t be worried about our bowling; we should only worry about our batting at this point.

Let’s move on to the next game.
Here’s a question from Saqib Shaheen: What would be your recommendation for the match against West Indies on Saturday? Do you recommend any changes in the batting order?

I will not recommend Younis Khan to open the innings again. I will also recommend not to push the panic button yet. A lot of changes after the first defeat will create a negative impact. I also don’t think that Haris Sohail is ready to bowl 10 overs at this point. If he is used carefully, then very soon he will be ready. But he is not ready yet so Yasir Shah should be retained in the playing eleven.

West Indies has a weak bowling attack without Sunail Narine but it doesn’t mean that their bowlers can be hit around the park by Pakistan. We should go in with the specialist keeper and should open with Haris Sohail instead of Younis.

My team for the game against West Indies would be:

  • Ahmad Shahzad
  • Haris sohail
  • Sarfaraz Ahmed
  • Younis Khan
  • Misbah-Ul-Haq
  • Umar Akmal
  • Shahid Afridi
  • Wahab Riaz
  • Yasir Shah
  • Sohail Khan
  • Muhammad Irfan

No Sohaib Maqsood?

He doesn’t look fully fit to me.

What about the rest of the tournament? Do you see Pakistan bouncing back?

Yes, Pakistan will bounce back as they have already played their crucial match and I am sure you will notice the difference against West Indies.

So, you still see Pakistan making it to the knock-out stage?

If Pakistan cannot make it to the knock-out stage then we should go back to the cricket where it all started. There were no coaching staff, no analyst and no supporting staff. Players used to plan their game in the middle of the pitch. They were only appreciated with “Shabash-Shabash”;  “Out Kerna Hai” was the only thing required by the great bowlers of the past and “Run Banana Hai” to the batsmen. They took care of the rest by themselves.

 

Thank you Asif bhai to have you with us. We will talk to you soon, hopefully, after winning against West Indies.
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