Watching Pakistan is like seeing a terrible play done by kids you know at school. You don’t know what to say, how to react and even what to feel. You hope for moments of inspiration in the script or at least in the acting but it gets clear at some point that the entire enterprise is going to stink. From then on, the actors and the watchers both are on an auto-pilot, one free-falling into trouble, and other watching the mess unfold. On Saturday, they had imploded to be 1 for 4 in 19 deliveries, the chase effectively halting right there.
“Jo kuch hona hai abhi, Pakistan mey hoga. Idhar kuch nahi rakha abhi. (Whatever is going to happen will happen in Pakistan now. Nothing is left here now),” a Pakistan journalist chuckled at end of it all, referring to the ripple that this campaign might trigger back inside the Pakistan cricket board. (Full Coverage| Venues | Fixtures)
The excruciating embarrassment was caught in Younis Khan dismissal, who one hopes hasn’t played his final international game. He began to get forward before sort of stumbling out towards danger. At some point in the forward lurch, he would have realised his game was up and would have just hoped against hope that somehow the ball would not nick the wood. Of course it did.
There were a small bunch of Pakistani fans in the temporary stands at long-off region. Happy and vociferous when Pakistan had sort of controlled West Indies for the first forty overs and they seemed to be in good spirits even when Darren Sammy and Andre Russell biffed around to push the total to 310 for 6. They generally seemed to be having a good day. Until Jerome Taylor, who had been carted around by Ireland batsmen at Nelson on Monday, ripped apart the top order.
Nasir Jamshed top-edged a pull off the second ball, and Younis Khan fell in the second over, and Harris Sohail stabbed a short delivery rearing towards his body to backward point. Ahmed Shezad fell in the first ball of the fourth over, driving to gully and Misbah slashed at a shortish delivery from Russell to Chris Gayle at the slips. Game over.
Before the toss, Younis Khan had an extensive batting session at the nets, outside the playing arena, and as he walked away rather briskly, a security lady tailing him, announced on the walkie-talkie to her colleagues stationed ahead, “We have one batsman coming through. Just one.” Little did she know, she was being rather prophetic. When Younis Khan doesn’t fire, this Pakistan team look rather directionless and lacking solidity. Misbah-ul-Haq, at times, seems to be playing for a draw even in an ODI and Umar Akmal should have been their Virat Kohli, but he lacks the mental tenacity.
Younis hasn’t been firing for a while now. They have tried pushing him to open in the game against India and he perished first ball against West Indies at no 3. Pakistan are desperate for him to succeed but it doesn’t seem to be happening. The phlegmatic Misbah was asked that question about Younis’ future. He smiled. Perhaps at the first question about axing someone, and ascribing blame for the defeat, before saying, “There is no need to keep anyone in the side, or drop anyone from the side without thinking. We will choose the team that gives us the best chance to play.” On the match eve he had said this wasn’t the time to panic; on Saturday he said they are “on the edge” now.
As he walked out of the press conference, he exchanged pleasantries with the media, who had earlier asked him whether it was the batsman who failed or the bowlers, and said: “Mein ek kaam karta hoon agle match mey. 11 bowlers khilayenge ek match, and 11 batsmen khilayenge agle mey.” It was said in jest of course but it says something about the state Pakistan finds itself in. Everything that can go wrong is going wrong. Misbah of course managed to mention a bit about the 1992 team and how they had turned the corner. Wonder whether anyone in Pakistan believes this team can do a similar Houdini act.