Against Bangladesh: Pakistan need to rise to the occasion

Men in Green will face Mashrafe Mortaza-led unit in the virtual semi-final on Wednesday

Against Bangladesh: Pakistan need to rise to the occasion PHOTO: AFP

It has been a few hard weeks for the Sarfraz Ahmed-led squad which is vying against the top teams in their region in the ongoing Asia Cup.

Batting concerns have resurfaced with Shoaib Malik being the only consistent performer while everyone in the line-up has been mercurial; one-off mediocre outing preceded or followed by bad run of form.

Fakhar Zaman's shattered-to-bits confidence is the clear embodiment of how Pakistan are faring at the moment, which head coach Mickey Arthur believes is a cause for concern since the team has been struggling.

Imamul Haq might be the superhero partner alongside Fakhar that we've all wanted for so long, but not now, not when the team is struggling and he is following suit too. If he wants to be great like his chief selector uncle Inzamamul Haq, he needs to perform when everyone else isn't. It is about time he walks out of the limelight which he attracted after scoring tons of runs against weak oppositions like Sri Lanka (yes, you read it right) and Zimbabwe.

Haris Sohail is what the teams needs right now. Although he might not be the wham-bam-thankyou-ma'am kind of a player that Pakistan need right now down the order, but then Asif Ali isn't really up there too.

Nawaz and Faheem may be the best choices in all-rounders we have right now, but they are not what we ordered. None of them have pulled Pakistan out of misery with the bat or the ball.

Team will also be missing the services of Imad Wasim, not with the bat but instead with the ball, who could be our own Yuzvendra Chahal or Kedar Jadhav, but let's reserve that debate for later.

Meanwhile, asking Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali or any other tail-ender to contribute to the team's total, when the specialist batsmen only manage to push the team past 180 odd runs, is criminal. If they do it, well and good, if they can't, it was never their job.

Lack of team combination

Sarfraz has looked confused when selecting a playing eleven in the Asia Cup. Shan Masood was selected over Azhar Ali, Sami Aslam, and even Mohammad Hafeez who can be a good operator top of the order in the non-seaming, non-swinging conditions in the UAE, but where is he?

Imam has lost the plot too many times now and if there was ever a perfect time to experiment, it is now.

Pakistan lack variety in the squad however they now have to work with it since something is not letting the team click with the current combinations. A little shuffling may lead to great surprises, hopefully good ones.

My probable eleven against Bangladesh

It is said fast-bowlers hunt in pairs, I believe openers can only thrive with the right support on the other end, and Fakhar needs a good, reliable and most importantly experienced partner with him.

Bringing Masood in, who has tons of runs in domestic cricket and the experience of playing with some of the Pakistani greats like Younus Khan, Misbahul Haq and many others, can change Fakhar's form for good. And even if he doesn't perform, it is not like Imam is!

Other than that, Babar must be followed by Haris Sohail, because Malik is the only guy in the Pakistani team who is hitting it out of the park at the moment, so we need him down the order at number 5.

Sarfraz should stick to the number six position once and for all.

Nawaz can be the all-rounder following Sarfraz, but not because he is better than Faheem, both are of the same pedigree, only because he can be the second spinner after Shadab.

Amir hasn't been himself lately. There are a million arguments for and against him, but right now is not a good time to criticise anyone. The team is struggling with confidence and backing them up is the only and the best way forward, but that doesn't mean we cannot replace him.

Junaid Khan has been itching to get an opportunity and he can be that surprise confidence booster which Pakistan need right now.

Selecting Shadab and Hasan Ali is a no-brainer and with the kind of form Shaheen Shah Afridi is in, he always trumps Usman Shinwari for a place in the final XI.