Former Test cricketers and chief selectors Salahuddin Sallu and Iqbal Qasim on Sunday highlighted several causes that resulted in the Pakistan cricket team’s failed campaign at the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup in the USA and West Indies.Talking exclusively to The Express Tribune, Sallu said Pakistan erred badly in team selection and lacked strategic wisdom to overcome the challenges posed by other teams in the highly competitive ICC event.“We did not concentrate on the key areas during our build-up for the T20 World Cup such as leadership, planning, and selection, and that led to our ignominious ouster from the ICC event,” said Sallu.
“Pakistan is the only team in the world that has reached the semifinals in the T20 World Cups on as many as six occasions but this time we were nowhere among the favorites,” lamented Sallu who held the chief selector’s position for a record ten times during his career. “The frequent changes in captaincy, the unsettled middle-order, and poor performance of the incompetent coaching staff hurt Pakistan’s preparations for the World Cup.“Babar Azam was removed from captaincy after the 50-overs World Cup in India and Shaheen Afridi was made the skipper. In between, we saw Shadab and Shan Masood also leading the national team and finally Babar returned to lead the team. All this naturally affected the players and they remained confused and unsettled,” he said.“Then the seven-man selection committee was also a bad idea really as so many different opinions never allowed any consensus to be reached on the final squad for the World Cup. Fine players such as pacer Mohammad Ali, all-rounder Irfan Niazi, batsmen Saud Shakeel and Haseebullah were left out,” said Sallu“Also, I strongly feel that incompetent support staff such as Azhar Mahmood, who was removed by Islamabad United as coach last year, and Malang Ali who is no physiotherapist but just a ‘militia’ hurt the team’s preparations,” observed Sallu.Ex-Test player and chief selector Iqbal Qasim said the tentative approach of the PCB and the selectors in the build-up for the ICC T20 World Cup never instilled any confidence in the team.“Among the 20 teams participating in the T20 World Cup, Pakistan was the last to name their squad since no one appeared sure about the selection and there seemed to be a total lack of focus,” said Bangalore Test hero Iqbal Qasim while speaking to The Express Tribune.“So many players were tried during the past year and therefore no settled outfit could emerge for Pakistan before the mega event,” he observed. “Tell me, why did we tour England for that last-gasp T20 series? It served no purpose at all as two matches were washed out and the players’ confidence was shattered by defeats.“Instead, the team should have landed in the US at least 20 days before the start of the T20 World Cup to get fully acclimatized to the conditions and accustomed to the pitches there. If the Pakistan team had played two or three good warm-up games in the US, they would have been much better prepared for the World Cup,’ contested Iqbal.He went on to add: “In the selection, too, Pakistan left out some deserving players like Usama Mir and Saud who would have served us better in the US.Also, during the matches, the lack of planning was very evident on the part of the captain and team management. Or why else would they send out-of-form Iftikhar to face the ‘Super Over’ and ask Fakhar to be at the non-striker end? And why did we ask Mohammad Amir to bowl it when we had Naseem Shah in the team who was bowling superbly?Iqbal Qasim pointed out further that when the strength and spirit of the US team were seen in the warm-up games against Bangladesh, why did Pakistan take them lightly?“We were not up to the mark against the US in the opening game and faltered in both batting and bowling which showed our ill-preparedness. As for the India match, it was lost due to sheer unprofessionalism on the team and management’s part. Just how could we lose after bowling the strong Indian batting for just 119 is beyond comprehension really,” said Iqbal, a highly respected player and selector of his time.

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