Cricket Round-up: 2016
2016 was a dramatic year for Pakistani cricket. Statistically, the team remained on an even keel across all three formats — One Day Internationals, Tests and Twenty20s — but some memorable feats made them stand out as ‘unpredictable entertainers’.
From the team’s embarrassing exit of the World T20 to becoming the number one Test team, it was a roller-coaster ride. The test team’s celebratory push-ups to mark their historic triumph at Lord’s was followed by the less than memorable performance of the ODI team in the same series with England. But team Pakistan never fell short of surprising fans.
A statistical look at what Pakistan gained and lost across all three formats in the year 2016:
Pakistan played fifteen T20s last year, winning eight and losing seven. But the story behind these figures is more interesting.
Under Shahid Afridi, Pakistan played a three-match series against New Zealand on their home soil, the Asia Cup in Bangladesh and the much-hyped World T20 in India.
The team lost against the Kiwis 2-1, failed to click in the Asia Cup losing two key matches against India and Bangladesh, and in the World T20 Pakistan crashed out of the mega-event with a disastrous performance. Pakistan had four matches in the Super-eight stage of the World T20 against Bangladesh, India, Australia and New Zealand. But the team could only manage to defeat the Bengal tigers. They failed to stand up to the other three opposing teams and hence faced an early exit from the tournament. The mega-event ended with a much needed shake-up in the team including captaincy change.
Sarfaraz Ahmed was finally put at the helm after the World T20 debacle. The young and energetic captain has led his team in four T20s so far – one against England at Manchester and three against West Indies in the UAE. And Pakistan has won all its matches quite convincingly under him.
The T20-squad then , seems to have been put on the right track with a talented captain leading the team.
Sometimes brief moments of cricketing euphoria become immortalized. That’s exactly what happened in Pakistan’s four-match Test series with England in the middle of the year. Although Misbah and his men only managed to equal the series 2-2, they left a lasting memory for their fans with a classic victory at Lord’s. Who could forget the celebratory push-ups post triumph? Challenging the English team on their home soil was no piece of cake. Pakistan players proved their mettle and eventually rose to the number one position after about 28 years.
Coming back to the UAE, Misbah and co had the West Indian challenge at hand. They showed consistency in their game plan and conquered the West Indian side beating them 2-1 in the Test series.
But the Pakistani team felt the heat under the relatively tough playing conditions in New Zealand and Australia where they lost matches against the Kiwis and then the Aussies.
In all, Pakistan’s Test team side played eleven matches this year and could emerge triumphant in only four.
One Day Internationals
After Pakistan’s impressive show in the four-match Test series against England, hopes were high for Azhar Ali and his boys to follow suit. But things turned out otherwise. Pakistan ODI team under Ali lost four matches in a row, barely managing to evade a whitewash in the fifth game.
A few days later, however, the favourable UAE playing conditions apparently revived the confidence of the demoralized ODI team. They whitewashed West Indies- but in conditions where visiting non-Asian teams often struggle.
Of a total of eight ODIs in the year, Pakistan had a fifty percent winning ratio.
Overall, the teams in all three formats had brief spells of cheers amid some lows, with the T20 side under Sarfaraz showing the most spark. The UAE factor proved to be a bed of roses for our players, but it’s high time for our team to dispel this impression and prove themselves to be all-weather talent in new challenges ahead.
The writer tweets @Azharkh4